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Maurice White – How Earth, Wind & Fire Influenced My Radio Career

Frederick M. Brown - Getty Images
White with the late Issac Hayes, Frederick M. Brown – Getty Images

There have been several deaths in the music world of late. The one hitting home is the recent death of Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White.

First, a little background: growing up I was a musical dork. While everyone in my school was listening to Rush, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC, I went home to listen to Donna Summer and whatever cheezy pop songs they were playing on WLS.

My first exposure to Earth, Wind & Fire was hearing September, Boogie Wonderland, and After The Love Has Gone on the radio around late 1978 / early 1979. I LOVED those songs (and still love them to this day).

During the early 80s while spending time with my dad and my Uncle Steve, I was exposed to some of EWF’s earlier works, and grew to appreciate them. Thanks in part to that exposure, I was able to land jobs at two soul radio stations – mornings at 1580AM WBCP in Champaign and afternoons at 1490AM WESL in East St. Louis.

My musical education was further expanded during my time at those stations – especially WBCP. I can still remember The Quiet Storm every evening at 9. Sgt. Rock playing “one for the grown folks”, and putting Reasons on the turntable. Every time I hear that song it takes me back to those nights in Champaign.

While I write this piece, I am listening to my Earth, Wind & Fire collection. Sun Goddess has begun to play. This is a song labeled on the charts as Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire, even though it is from Ramsey Lewis’ Sun Goddess album. I was introduced to this song during my time at WBCP, and I love it as well. If you have 8 minutes to kill, sit back and enjoy…

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