For any fan of R&B music — any fan of music, period, really — it is impossible to think of the 1970s and early ’80s without recalling the shiny, groovy, exuberant sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire. And no man had a greater impact on them than founding member Maurice White, who died Thursday at 74.

Shining Star, That’s The Way of the World, September, Sing A Song,Fantasy, Reasons: White helped write all of these hits. The onetime sessions drummer, who played with Ramsey Lewis’s jazz trio in the ’60s, also served as EWF’s principal producer as its music — steeped in jazz and funk as well as Latin influences, but as luxuriantly pop-savvy as any AM radio classics of the time — segued seamlessly into the disco era and eventually embraced electronic textures.


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