Get your bell bottoms out of the closet, find your most colorful polyester shirt and lace up your dancing shoes — Earth, Wind & Fire is coming to town.
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will be transformed into a “Boogie Wonderland” when Earth, Wind & Fire lands at 8 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Indio concert venue.
One of the most commercially successful bands of its era, EWF helped to usher in a golden age of cross-cultural and multi-genre eclectic pop music that helped define the 1970s.
The group’s founder and leader, Maurice White, explains his vision of the band.
“I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before,” Mr. White has said. “Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music … which somehow ended up becoming pop.”
“We came out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness,” he continued. “I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners’ spiritual content.”
It’s too easy to lump EWF in with only African-American contemporaries such as P-Funk, the Isleys, James Brown (his funk period), War, and the Ohio Players. Keep in mind that EWF were also contemporaries of Uriah Heep, Chicago, the Doobie Bros., and Steely Dan — to name a few.
“Our emphasis was on our own unique sound,” reminded Verdine White, the band’s original bass player and Maurice’s younger brother. “We didn’t have just one style or one type of audience. I mean, we opened up for Rod Stewart back in the day too.”
Influenced by some of the giants of bass guitar (Louis Satterfield, Richard Davis, James Jamerson, Paul McCartney), Verdine and his funky yet melodic bass lines were – and are – a huge part of EWF’s sound.
“Louis taught me everything I know on bass,” said Verdine. “And James Jamerson and Paul McCartney played on hit records — that was a huge influence. Learning what the song needed to bit a hit.”
Verdine was also instrumental in co-writing some of EWF’s biggest hits, such as “Fantasy,” “That’s The Way Of The World,” and “Serpentine Fire.”
“Maurice insisted all of us get involved in the songwriting process. It was very collaborative. We produced a creative atmosphere where there were no clocks, there was no time schedule. That’s when the creative juices flow.”
Asked which of of Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic albums best represents the band at the height of their creative peak, Verdine couldn’t choose just one.
“All of them, because each one progressed into the next one. We were always evolving.”
And that evolution continues to this day. Look for a new Earth, Wind & Fire album later this year.
“We have a new album coming out in the summer and we’ll tour behind it. We’re putting the finishing touches on it now.”
For further information and tickets, visit www.fantasyspringsresort.com.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.