VERDINE WHITE O
B Y R A N DY PAT T E R S O N B O O M E R O C I T Y. C O M
NE OF THE MOST iconic
bands to come out of the ‘70s was Earth, Wind & Fire. Their first huge hit, “Shining Star,” took our school – and the whole world – by a dancing storm. Fast-forward to today, and the band has repeatedly toured the world and has reportedly sold 100 million records. With a couple of their songs hitting the 2016 movies, Dr. Strange and Trolls, Earth, Wind & Fire is reaching all-new audiences and creating another generation of lifelong fans. The founder and genius behind Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White, passed away a year ago last month. His musical legacy is still being felt today, and the band honors his memory by carrying on its mission of blessing the masses with their iconic hits. Leading that mission is Maurice’s kid brother, Verdine White, who has been with the band since its inception as bass player. To say that Verdine is not only exceptionally talented but also high-energy would be a severe understatement. The man doesn’t stop from the moment he hits the stage until the final bow. Earth, Wind & Fire is on tour and will be performing at the Tennessee Theatre on March 21st. To talk about the tour and other Earth, Wind & Fire news, I called Verdine at his California home. With the band having been around for almost 50 years, I started by asking Verdine if he thought that the band would last that long or that the songs would still stand so well. “No, not at all,” he said. “When you first start, you hope to get a couple of hits and things like that. You just hope for the best, 30
EVERYTHING KNOXVILLE March 2017
and then I thought I’d go back to teach and go back to school. But every year obviously got better and better and better. We have to thank my late brother, Maurice, for that. You know he passed away last year in February. He was the one with the vision. We’re just basically following the blueprint that he laid out.” Discussing the current tour, Verdine shared what fans can expect at the shows. “Well, it’s going to be a great show,” he said. “A lot of great energy. A lot of great songs. We’re on our fifth generation. Our music’s everywhere. One of the things we did is we have three songs in two of the biggest movies that came out before Christmas. Dr. Strange with Shining Star, and we also did the Trolls soundtrack with Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. We have three songs in the number one and number two movies in the whole world – back-to-back, same weekend. “The other day my wife and I were at dinner, and a woman brought her three-year-old daughter to take pictures, because she had just seen the Trolls movie and was doing backflips in the theater. A three year old! And the parents brought them! They had just left the Trolls movie and said, ‘Can we take a picture?
Can we take a picture?’ That’s amazing, isn’t it? That’s really a blessing and shows you the power of songs.” As Verdine mentioned, his brother, Maurice, passed away a year ago. I asked what thoughts he would share about him. “That he was a great person, first of all,” he said. “He was a wonderful brother. He was just a great person. All those things first. And, of course, he was just a marvelously talented person! He was the best big brother that anybody could ever have. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.” As for what’s on the band’s radar for the next year or two, Verdine said, “We haven’t really thought about it yet. The most things we’re doing right now is getting ready for the tour, and then we’ll take it from there.” As for the band’s legacy, Verdine shared, “When you’re at this point in your career, that’s the question you get. If you were a young act, you wouldn’t give them that question. I think it’s still in process, you know what I’m sayin’? That’s my answer. It’s an obvious question to people like us when you’ve been around for quite some time. I think it still begs to be written. People ask me about Maurice’s legacy, and I say that it’s still being written. “One of the things that I tell young artists who come up to me is that I tell them to take care of themselves. Take care of themselves! Start now! That’s the one thing that I do say. I always say, ‘Stay strong! Stay healthy!’ That’s what I tell the younger artists when they come up to me.” You can read the extended version of this interview at www.boomerocity.com.