The percussionist’s brother and bandmate Verdine White shared the sad news through social media on Sunday (Jan. 1). Neither the date nor the cause of White’s death had been disclosed at press time.
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“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member. Our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddie’ White,” Verdine White wrote on Instagram alongside photos of his brother.
“He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte, and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels!” he added. “He was the wonderful bro that was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous! And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light-hearted.”
Fred White was born on Jan. 13, 1955 in Chicago. He began drumming at the age of 9 and later performed with Linda Ronstadt and Donny Hathaway before joining Earth, Wind & Fire in 1974. He was the fourth of the White brothers to perform in the Grammy-winning R&B band.
White sat behind the kit for some of Earth, Wind & Fire’s most successful songs, including “Shining Star,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1975. He also scored top 10 hits with “Let’s Groove,” “September,” “Sing a Song,” “After the Love Has Gone,” “Boogie Wonderland” and others.
White left Earth, Wind & Fire in the mid-1980s, but he returned for the band’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000.
During his career, White also lent his drumming talents to recordings for Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat, Deniece Williams, the Emotions, Ramsey Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, and Diana Ross. Most recently, he collaborated with Ross on her 2021 album, Thank You.
Verdine White’s tribute post drew a slew of responses from fellow musicians, including Questlove, Lenny Kravitz and Nile Rodgers.
“Sending my love and deepest condolences to you and the family,” Kravitz commented. “I was blessed to have been in his presence and blessed to have been influenced by him. A true king. Rest in power.
See Verdine White’s tribute to his brother Fred on Instagram here.
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