Say It's Your Birthday: Earth, Wind & Fire's Verdine White

Today is the birthday of Earth, Wind and Fire bassist

Verdine White, who is the brother of EWF leader Maurice White. Earth, Wind and

Fire were one of the most successful black pop bands of the '70s. With their

precise arrangements, sensual lyrics, and carefully calculated approach to pop,

Earth, Wind and Fire were a striking contrast to George Clinton's

Parliament/Funkadelic, which focused on free-form, other-worldly funk. Earth,

Wind and Fire formed in 1969, but didn't achieve widespread success until

1974's Head to the Sky, which went gold. This began a string of

enormously popular albums that reached into the '80s. Buoyed by Phillip

Bailey's silky vocals and anchored by the White brothers' rhythm section

(Maurice played percussion), the band, which at times contained up to nine

musicians, never lost their focus, which was to produce enjoyable pop music

that shaded its musical complexity beneath seemingly effortless arrangements.

In 1975 the band recorded That's the Way of the World, which featured

the Grammy winning "Shining Star." Their success abated as the '70s drew to a

close. Their most recent album is 1993's Millennium. Earth, Wind and

Fire have sold over 19 million albums worldwide. --Seth Mnookin