Fred White, drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire, dies at 67

A black-and-white photo of a man playing drums onstage.
Fred White joined the band Earth, Wind & Fire as a drummer in the mid-1970s and stayed until 1983.
(Rob Verhorst / Redferns via Getty Images)

Drummer Fred White, who backed up his brothers Maurice and Verdine White in the Grammy-winning ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, has died. He was 67.

Verdine White, a vocalist, percussionist and bass player for the band, posted Sunday on Instagram that his younger brother Frederick Eugene “Freddie” White had died. He didn’t say how or where.

Earth, Wind & Fire began in 1970 under the leadership of Maurice White, who created a band that combined elements of jazz, funk, R&B, soul, dance, pop and rock, and celebrated African musicianship and spiritualism. Driven by its horn section, the Phenix Horns, and a reputation for energetic live performances, the group’s popularity grew after it moved to Columbia Records, which was then under the leadership of Clive Davis.


Fred White was already an accomplished drummer, playing for Donny Hathaway, before he joined Earth, Wind & Fire in the mid-1970s alongside drummer and percussionist Ralph Johnson. The band’s rhythm section was tight and upbeat and set the stage for songs like “Boogie Wonderland” and “September” to become instant favorites.

Maurice White, co-founder and leader of the groundbreaking ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, died Thursday at his Los Angeles home.

Feb. 4, 2016

Verdine White called his brother Fred a gifted child musician “with gold records at the young age of 16 years old!” Fred White remained with the band until 1983.

“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!” Verdine White wrote.

Some of the band’s biggest hits are still widely popular, often sampled and used in movies. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, played the 2005 Super Bowl halftime show and has six Grammys. The band’s cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” was on former President Obama’s first Spotify playlist.

The band’s most successful period started with the 1975 album “That’s the Way of the World” and continued through the rest of the decade. Other hits included “Serpentine Fire” and ″Shining Star.”

Maurice White died in 2016 at age 74.