Fred White, who played drums for the era-defining and genre-defying band Earth, Wind & Fire, has died at the age of 67, his brother and the band announced on social media.
“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member, our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddie’ White,” wrote his brother and bandmate Verdine White on Instagram on Sunday. No cause of death has yet been released.
Fred White was born in 1955 in Chicago into a family of musicians, including older brothers Verdine and Maurice White. He showed talent at the drums early in life — a “child protégé,” his brother Verdine said — and even as a teenager found success playing drums in Chicago for acts including Donny Hathaway.
“At home and beyond he was the wonderful bro that was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous,” his brother wrote. “We could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted.”
In 1970, Maurice moved to Los Angeles and founded Earth, Wind & Fire, and Verdine joined a few months later.
A few years later, they coaxed their younger brother to join the group as a primary drummer.
Fred White went on to play the drums for the funk-soul-disco-R&B-fusion band in its heyday through the mid-1980s, including on all six albums in Earth, Wind & Fire’s remarkable run of consecutive top 10 records on the Billboard pop chart.
His tight and energetic beats made up the backbone of hits like “Shining Star,” “Let’s Groove” and – of course – the enduring mega-hit “September,” which hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released and has nearly 1.2 billion streams on Spotify.
Fred White left the band in the mid-1980s, though he continued to perform with other groups over the years. In 2000, Earth Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, including Fred as a member.