A Few Observations From The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies

Maurice White appeared to be about the same height as me (I am 5' 9'').
But as he waked thru the entrance to the Ballroom for the rehearsal, Maurice White appeared to me to be a majectic figure, an African King among his subjects.

He said nothing
He didn't have to

And then suddenly it struck me...I guess that I have always known it...
...But at that moment, my vision was clear
And the truth emerged in my mind for the first time...
And I was able to see VERY clearly that...

(Maurice White looked to me like Hallie Sellasie)

Prior to the rehearsals I had talked with both Ralph Johnson and Verdine White and later as they walked past me going into the rehearsal, they both gave me that "nod".
Yall know what I'm talking about, right?
That "nod" that Black men give to each other when they pass on the street
It's an acknowledgement of mutual respect
Sorta like saying...
"I dunno what might go down here, but if something does, you KNOW that I got your back"

Later inside of the rehearsal I talked more with Ralph Johnson and Verdine White about music, politics, Blacks on the internet, etc.
We were the ONLY Black media at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.
I got the distinct impression that as PROUD as I was to see Earth, Wind and Fire inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, that they were just as PROUD to see US there.
They knew that we weren't there to cover Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt or the Lovin Spoonful.
(no disrespect to them)


Soul Patrol knows it's history
Soul Patrol is all about documenting that history
Soul Patrol is all about spreading the GOOD WORD about OUR majestic past, present and future culture

Li'l Kim presented EWF for induction
Perhaps if other "negro media" actually cared about OUR majestic past, present and future culture, this young lady might have actually known enough about Earth, Wind and Fire to have been able to recognize one of their songs when it was played (she didn't)

Once again I say that it is up to US, the people who have first hand knowledge of these artists and their connection to OUR glorious history to EDUCATE younger people about it.
How else will they be equipped to PROTECT our culture from the CULTURE BANDITS?

Earth, Wind and Fire knows this.
Their music right from the start has always been about the advancement of African culture.

I was PROUD to have been there and maybe even a little prouder, when they gave me that "brotha's nod" as they walked by :)

One last point about EWF and the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Induction...
Just wanted to mention that my brother Mike was there as well.

The very first concert I ever went to was in 1972 Mike and I went together to see the show, just like we did on Monday It was in 1972 at Hostra University in Hempstead, NY and we saw...
Earth Wind and Fire!!!!!!!!!
their opening act was Maxxayn)

So going to see them inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, together... ...almost 30 years later

It was kinda special for the two of us :)

I'm rambling now...
However, I just wanted to get those thoughts out.
(I think that we made a few new friends)

--Bob Davis

"EWF History" - by Kathy Kyles

"None of this was planned. The universe played a part in the whole thing, obviously. We just took our cues from the universe and kept moving on."
-- Maurice White

Maurice White, influenced and inspired by such artists as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bach, Mozart, and Sly and the Family Stone, decided to create a band that would spread the message of love, unity, peace and harmony that would transend all races and touch audiences all over the world for the next twenty years. The name of the group would be called Earth, Wind & Fire.

Going through many personnel changes before settling on the current lineup, the group was introduced to the world with Last Days and Time, which the group recorded in the Spring of 1972. This album introduced the world to the sound of the kalimba, an instrument Maurice found in a Chicago drum store.

The album was a success and the band began touring. In 1973, the band recorded "Head to the Sky." With the album came more personnel changes with Ronnie Laws and Roland Bautista's departure and Johnnie Graham and Andrew Woolfolk's arrival. Two hits emerged from this album "Evil" and "Keep Your Head to the Sky."

"Open Our Eyes" became EWF's first platinum album. "The message in the music was clearly a reflection of Maurice White's vision for the group." Maurice states, "From the very start, I had a commitment to be different in terms of music and what was projected on stage. Coming out of a period of social confusion in the seventies, I wanted Earth, Wind & Fire to reflect the growing search for greater self-understanding, greater freedom from restrictions we placed on ourselves in terms of individual potential."

Jessica Cleaves, the only female member departed the group before recording "Open Our Eyes." Jessica was not replaced and the eight-man band consisted of Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Larry Dunn, Ralph Johnson, Johnny Graham, Andrew Woolfolk, and Al McKay. "Open Our Eyes" yielded two hits, the conscious, not to mention funky jam, "Mighty Mighty" and the slow hypnotic "Devotion."

"That's The Way Of The World followed, lifting EWF into the stratosphere. This was their first commercial success garning double platinum status. The group achieved their first #1 hit, "Shining Star," and introduced us to the classic tune, "Reasons."

By this timeMaurice and Verdine's brother, Fred White had joined the grou and CBS, wanting another album, got it with EWF's Gratitude. Maurice explained that the group did not have enough time to complete a studio album and decided to record some of their concerts. Gratitude was EWF's only live album, and earned double platinum status an "unhearlded occurrence for any black group of the day."

During the recordings for "Spirit," which would be EWF's 6th double platinum album, Maurice's mentor Charles Stepney was felled by a heart attack. The title track "Spirit" was written with him in mind, and the album was dedicated to him.

"All n All" says Verdine White was one of the hardest records I ever worked on." During this time, Maurice was producing other acts for Kalimba Productions, his own company. Those acts included Deniece Williams, and the Emotions. "All n All" went double platinum and gave us songs like "Ill Write a Song For You","Be Ever Wonderful," "Jupiter," "Fantasy."

By now, the group had moved into large venus playing Madison Square Garden. An EWF concert had now become a spectacular stage production featuring the magic tricks of Doug Henning. The elaborate costumes combined with the magic tricks wowed audiences all over the world. To see each member decend into a pyramid and disappear, to have Freddie White's drum sticks rise in the air, while still playing, drove the audiences into a frenzy.

The group released a "Best of EWF," which featured another hit single, "September." By the year 1979, we saw EWF hit the dance music charts with Boogie Wonderland, which featured the Emotions. "Boogie Wonderland" was from the group's next double platinum album entitled "I Am." During this time the stress and pressure were hitting the group. The Record company wanted more and more, and the strains of holding a record label, and production company, as well as the regors of learing EWF were beginning to take its toll on Maurice White.

In 1980, "Faces" was released. This album was a relative commercial disappointment, earning only gold status. The music industry was undergoing a transitional period at this time. A recession had hit the music industry as well as the emergence of the disco and video age.

Earth Wind & Fire came back with "Raise," which became double platinum. Al McKay had left the group and was replaced by former EWF member Roland Bautista.

"Powerlight" reached gold status, but the group was beginning to lose its shine. EWF did not achieve the same critical acclaim for "Powerlight" that they were accustomed too. "Electic Universe was released "too quickly" says Maurice White. The album was not a success for the group, not even earning gold status. Says Maurice "CBS wanted another "Let's Groove." Personally, I'd had it. I'd been making albums for 12 years non-stop with almost no breaks from touring. I called a meeting and told everyone where I was at."

EWF did not record from 1983-1987. Maurice produced other artists and recorded his own album. Philip along with Phil Collins earned a #1 pop hit and also recorded gospel music as well.

In 1987, EWF was back in the studio with "Touch The World" earning a hit with the single "System of Survival." Presently, EWF can be found on the soundtrack for Spike Lee's movie "Get On The Bus."

All quoted material by David Nathan

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