White’s health had declined in the last few months as a result of a long battle with Parkinsons disease, which had plagued him since the early 1990s and forced him to stop touring in 1994.
White founded the legendary funk-soul band in Chicago in the late 1960s alongside his brothers Verdine and Fred and served as the band’s chief songwriter and producer. He shared vocal duties with lead singer Philip Bailey. The group’s hits include “Shining Star,” “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.” The band, which has sold more than 90 million albums worldwide, is set to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 15.
The musician has seven Grammy wins and 21 nominations under his belt. EWF was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. White also appears in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.
“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” Verdine White told the Associated Press on Thursday. “While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”
Our brother Maurice White passed peacefully in his sleep this morning.
The light is he, shining on you and me. pic.twitter.com/ppWTHKUyG6
— Earth, Wind & Fire (@EarthWindFire) February 4, 2016