Maurice White, the founder and backbone of legendary R&B group Earth Wind & Fire has died. He was 74. According to a TMZ report, White passed peacefully in his sleep in his Los Angeles home after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Beginning in 1971, Earth, Wind & Fire became one of the more versatile pioneers of funk music. For decades, EWF remained a cornerstone on the R&B charts as well as the homes of millions of African-Americans, funk aficionados and more. The band released several monumental albums in the ’70s including 1975’s That’s the Way of the World, 1977’s All ‘N All, 1980’s Faces. White was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the late 1980s, forcing him to step away from performing with Earth, Wind & Fire but he remained a music mainstay, writing and producing for the likes of Barbara Striesand, Barry Manilow and many more.

White was born in Tennessee in 1941 and grew up in South Memphis. He later moved to Chicago and worked as a session drummer for Chess Records, playing for the likes of Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Sonny Stitt, Muddy Waters, The Impressions, The Dells, Betty Everett, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Buddy Guy. He played the drums on Billy Stewart’s “Summertime” hit single. He then replaced Isaac “Red” Holt in the Ramesy Lewis Trio in 1966, playing on nine of the group’s albums including Wade In The Water before moving on to Los Angeles with friends Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead to form Earth, Wind & Fire.

A member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Earth, Wind & Fire and the Vocalist Hall of Fame, Maurice White also released a self-titled album in 1985, Maurice White.

My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep. While the world has lost…

Posted by Earth, Wind & Fire on Thursday, February 4, 2016