Earth, Wind & Fire percussionist Fred White dead at 67

Percussionist Fred White of the genre-defying Chicago-based band Earth, Wind & Fire is dead at 67.

“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member, Our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddie, White,” his brother Verdine White posted on Instagram Sunday.

Verdine White, a founding member and bass player for the Grammy-winning band started in 1969, said “brother number 4 in the family lineup” was now “drumming with the angels.”

While Verdine White called his brother a founding member of the band in his tribute, the late percussionist was not credited on any Earth, Wind and Fire records until 1974. He continued to play with the band live and on numerous recordings until the mid-1980s.

Maurice White is credited with starting the band that fused funk, pop, jazz and disco to create hit 1970s tunes including “September” and “Shining Star.” He preceded Fred in death in 2016. Monte White, the band’s tour manager, died in 2020 at 66 years old. Verdine White, 71, also remembered their brother Ronald White in his online memorial to younger brother Fred White, who he called a “child protégé.”

Earth, Wind & Fire joined the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, where their live performances were recognized as “a spectacle of magic, muscle and musicianship.”

Fred White was remembered as “always entertaining and delightfully mischievous,” by his big brother.

“We could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted,” Verdine White wrote.

News of Fred White’s death was greeted with remorse by fellow musicians including The Roots drummer Questlove, who simply wrote “Love” on Instagram. Guitarist Lenny Kravitz sent “deepest condolences” to White’s family.

The band Chicago, which recorded a live album with Earth, Wind & Fire while the bands toured together in 2004, also addressed Verdine White’s Instagram post announcing his brother’s death.

“So very sad,” Chicago wrote from its verified account. “Truly sorry to hear this.”