Earth, Wind and Fire's Verdine White on Marriage, Legacy and Playing for Barack Obama
Earth, Wind and Fire are one of those legendary bands that are beyond genre identification. Throughout the '70's, '80s and '90s, the band's mixture of R&B, soul, jazz, rock, funk, disco and gospel challenged radio programmers and sold more than 90 million albums.
From a tour stop in Los Angeles and in anticipation of Earth, Wind and Fire's show Sunday at the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, bassist Verdine White was kind enough to (briefly) talk with DC9 about the band's lengthy career and the exciting new album Now, Then and Forever.
How come it took eight years to make the new album?
It really was six. The years, they come and go. Did you like the record?
Yes, I think it was a return to the classic sound of the mid '70s.
Oh great, great, great, fabulous, fabulous. That is so great. I am glad you liked the record.
Have the crowds responded well to the new material?
Yes, we played in Europe and they really like the new stuff a lot.
How does a band stay together for 44 years?
Well, first of all, we love what we do. We are very happy with what we have done. Plus, we have a great audience.
And you have been married for over 30 years.
I think it's been 32. You have to really love each other and understand each other. You have to talk. You have to keep things going in the same direction.
The audience has stuck with the band even through some stylistic changes. Was going back to the sound of the '70s and '80s intentional?
Yes, that's true, but we did it in a way that doesn't sound dated. I think we succeeded. It doesn't sound old or passé.
The band has sold 90 million albums. Is that validation in terms of being musician?
I'm sure it's more now. I am sure it's more now. I am sure it's 99 million now. It makes us happy to know that so many people love the music. That sticks with us, you know?
Of course, your brother Maurice is in the band. Have you had your fair share of arguments?
No, we are good. He is my guy. He is my mentor. I'll always love him.
You were raised in Chicago during that city's classic blues period. Was blues an early influence?
A little bit, but I loved the pop world and the jazz world. That was where I came from. I even listened to classical music.