Earth, Wind & Fire was a legendary American funk band, formed in Chicago in 1969. Bandleader Maurice White began his recording career as a session drummer, working for Chess Records; he soon joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio. He formed a band called The Salty Peppers and signed to Capitol Records, releasing a regionally successful single called "La La Time".
White moved his band to Los Angeles and changed the name to Earth, Wind & Fire. Their self-titled album, Earth, Wind & Fire, was released in 1970 to great critical acclaim, as was The Need of Love (1971); neither were commercially successful. In 1972, White dissolved the line-up (minus himself and brother Verdine), and added Jessica Cleaves (vocals), Ronnie Laws (flute, saxophone), Larry Dunn (keyboard), Ralph Johnson (percussion) and Philip Bailey (vocals, of Friends & Love). The new line-up signed to CBS Records and released Last Days and Time without much success. Laws and Bautista were replaced by Andrew Woolfolk and Al McKay and Johnny Graham. Head to the Sky (1973) was a moderate success, but 1974's Open Our Eyes was a major hit.
Earth, Wind & Fire's breakthrough success, however, was the soundtrack to That's the Way of the World. Though the film was not a success, "Shining Star" became a huge mainstream hit and launched the band's career. After a series of critically and popularly acclaimed albums and singles, Faces (1980) finally showed the group's success beginning to wane. White disbanded the group in 1983 after Electric Universe was released to poor sales and reviews.
A 1987 reunion almost recreated a career, but Earth, Wind & Fire has not achieved mainstream success since the 1970s. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the latter in 2003.