1941 – 2016
“The light is he, shining on you and me.”
When I heard the news that Maurice White, the founding member of Earth Wind & Fire, had died peacefully in his sleep on my drive home from work last Thursday (2/4/2016), I was shocked. Like so many EW&F fans, I had no idea that Maurice was ill and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. I never noticed that he stopped appearing in public despite the band’s sold-out concerts around the world. By the time I made it home, the news of his death had set in, and I felt somber that another musical genius in the music industry was gone!
With some 90 million albums sold, I can say with certainty that Earth Wind & Fire is one of the GREATEST American bands of the 20th century! Their musical talents have spanned R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin, and African musical genres. My love affair with them was the results of listening to my brother’s EW&F collection since the 1970’s. On the weekends, you would find me grooving to hits like “Energy by Earth, Wind, & Fire” (1971), “They Don’t See by Earth, Wind & Fire” (1972), “Keep Your Head to the Sky” (1973) and “Devotion by Earth, Wind & Fire” (1974) during my early teens.
The day I became a die-hard EW&F fan was when my brother took me to see them in concert in 1975 when they released their sixth successful studio album – That’s the Way of the World! The dynamic sound of their horn section was so hypnotic that I stood mesmerized by them throughout the concert — LOL! Their energy and elaborate stage show were nothing I had ever experienced before. The interplay between Phillip Bailey’s falsetto and Maurice’s tenor voice had me and everyone there celebrating and singing right along with them. That song and album of the same name put them over the top, and they have never looked back. As a budding pianist, I just had to experience the title song for myself. So a few weeks after the concert, my mom took me to the music store and purchased this hit song for me to play on the piano.
It has been 41 years since my first Earth Wind & Fire Concert and since I sat and played that hit song on the piano. Even though I no longer play or even have a piano in my home (the family piano has been passed down to my grand-daughters), I still have the 1975 sheet music of That’s The Way Of The World that mom bought me in my personal music collection. Maybe one day I will enjoy hearing this timeless song played by one of my grandkids.
(Click below for lyrics & piano accompaniment)
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