Maurice White, who founded Earth, Wind & Fire, has died. He was 74.

Maurice White Dies

White died late Wednesday or early Thursday morning at his Los Angeles home, Earth, Wind & Fire’s publicist, Mark Young, told The New York Times. Although Young did not indicate the cause of White’s death, it was known that he had been battling Parkinson’s disease since at least 2000.

White both founded and led Earth, Wind & Fire, a band that emerged in the 1970s playing R&B music that crossed into and melded with a variety of genres, including blues, jazz, rock and gospel. Their sound propelled them into the mainstream of pop music, attracting a diverse and ardent following.

Among Earth, Wind & Fire’s biggest hits that White personally had a hand in crafting, include “September,” “Shining Star” and “That’s the Way of the World.” Over the years, Earth, Wind & Fire put out 16 Top 40 hits and collected six Grammy Awards. While White got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 with the group, he also got into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on his own in 2010.

Prior to founding Earth, Wind & Fire, White had worked as a session jazz drummer. He had been led to pursue a career as a percussionist while singing in his local church choir and admiring marching band musicians.

“I saw the guys in the band playing drums — they had on shiny suits and were getting all the attention from the girls,” he told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis in 2007. “So I decided: That’s what I want to do. From that point on I just became infatuated with music.”

White is survived by his brothers Verdine and Fred.

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