White reportedly succumbed to complications from Parkinsons disease. Variety reported the disease had plagued White since the early ’90s and forced him to stop touring in 1994.
Earth, Wind & Fire was formed in 1969 and White served as the group’s main songwriter and producer; he was also known for his work as a bandleader and arranger and had performed as a session drummer for Chess Records and with the Ramsey Lewis Trio.
White, who was born in Memphis, Tenn., formed the group in Chicago, and the ensemble also featured his brothers, Verdine and Fred. Other notable members include Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Al McKay.
Well-known for their blend of soul, funk, disco and pop music, over the course of their career Earth, Wind & Fire also earned 20 Grammy nominations and won six awards. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and White was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The group sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and is known for such hits as “After the Love Has Gone,” “Sing a Song” and “Shining Star.” The band’s hits were notable for the progressive sounds of their horn section and the vocal interplay between White’s tenor and Bailey’s falsetto.
President Barack Obama invited Earth, Wind & Fire to perform at the White House during his first term.