White was a drum prodigy, touring with the likes of Donny Hathaway before finishing high school (including in the show immortalized on Donny Hathaway Live) and joining his siblings in Earth, Wind & Fire before his 20th birthday. His arrival in the band in 1974 installed him in the twin-drummer engine room of a hitmaking powerhouse; the band’s commercial heyday began a year later with “Shining Star,” a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. With a mix of rousing ballads and body-moving soul, Earth, Wind & Fire became pop figureheads of the disco era. Songs like 1976’s “Saturday Nite” established the band as a transatlantic success even before “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” caused international sensations later in the decade.
White left the group in the early 1980s but returned for their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000. He continued to sing with artists including Diana Ross and Bonnie Raitt, most recently on Ross’ 2021 comeback album.
On Instagram, Verdine White wrote that his sibling “joins our brothers Maurice, Monte, and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels.” He continued:
Child protégé, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old!
He was brother number 4 in the family lineup. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
But more than that at home and beyond he was the wonderful bro that was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous!
And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted!🙏🏾😍🙏🏾
He will live in our hearts forever, rest in power beloved Freddie!!
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