The year is 1951 on the 25th of July. The bassist Verdine White, who is most known for playing with Earth, Wind, and Fire, was born in Chicago Illinois. Verdine White is ranked as being the no. 27th all time bass player by Bass Player’s List of the 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time. He started playing with Earth, Wind, and Fire at the age of seventeen due to his older brother Maurice White being the founder, main record producer, and co-lead singer. Today his net worth is over 10 million dollars. These are the types of success stories that define Chicago music and culture in history.
In an interview with Microphone Check with Frannie and Ali, Verdine White got to sit down with the platform to give a little insight into the history of himself and the great band that became Earth, Wind, and Fire. His older brother Maurice and Ramsey Lewis originally were going to name the band Salty Peppers (Salt N Peppa ended up being a thing years later ironically enough) until Maurice decided to name the band after his astrological chart which did not contain the element water. It only had earth, air, and fire; Maurice decided to rename air to wind. And thus a legendary band is born.
According to Verdine White his older brother Maurice instilled a foundational sound and musicality in the group through his extensive study of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He credits Maurice with his and the entire bands legacy and success. Verdine White’s father was a saxophonist and a drummer by passion and a doctor by trade. He instilled an attitude of strict proper musicianship in his sons according to Verdine. Maurice was ten years older than Verdine elder and the two technically did not start playing together till they were out in California.
Verdine says Maurice was always encouraging and always took him seriously although, Verdine was not ready to keep up with his brother for years. One day Maurice told Verdine, “I need you at the studio in case the bass player doesn’t show up“. Even though the bass player did show up that day, the energy that Maurice wanted to give Verdine and uplift his little brother as a musician was definitely there! Even though it took years for Verdine White to end up playing with his beloved brother, that is now past on, from age ten onward Verdine’s life has been nothing but music.
It was interesting to read about his experiences in Chicago through the 60’s, according to him music related things were happening constantly. Whether Verdine was practicing to keep up with his brothers and father, attending shows with his mother, putting on events for Maurice, or just studying and learning from his older contemporaries, Verdine was always entrenched within the culture of Chicago music. And to me the most awesome fact is that, according to Verdine, he was completely sober and focused through his teen years due to what was required of him as a musician. He did not party, he did not do drugs, there was only one thing he had to do back then and that was play music. Happy birthday to a real Chicago legend, Verdine White of Earth, Wind, and Fire!