Philip Bailey - percussion, conga, vocals; Larry Dunn - organ, synthesizer, piano, keyboards; Johnny Graham - guitar, percussion; Ralph Johnson - percussion, drums; Al McKay - guitar, percussion, vocals; Maurice White - vocals, kalimba, percussion; Fred White - drums; Verdine White - bass, percussion, vocals; Andrew Woolfolk - flute, sax, wind
Earth Wind & Fire emerged from Los Angeles after first coming together in Chicago in 1969. The band was formed by jazz/R&B session drummer Maurice White, who had been a popular percussionist at Chess Records and also a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. While a member of the Lewis Trio in 1967 and 1968, he developed his ability to play other instruments and began seriously writing R&B and funk music. He also embraced the kalimba, an African melodic percussion instrument, which was sort of a handheld version of the vibraphone.
The kalimba would have a profound effect on White, who decided to use it as his trademark instrument that appeared in many EWF songs, and would also become the name of White's production company. The initial versions of Earth Wind & Fire were broad in their musical canvas, and were more of a funk-jazz fusion group. Three albums on Warner Brothers flopped commercially, but gained the group a strong cult following and the support of the progressive music media.
In 1973, White revised the band with a new lineup that included his brothers Verdine (bass) and Fred (as a second drummer). He also added vocalist Phillip Bailey, who lent the band enormous commercial appeal.
It was finally in 1974, the year this show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, that the group finally found its musical niche, after moving to Clive Davis' Columbia Records. The group was promoting Open Your Eyes, which eventually ended up going gold. After a lengthy intro, there are three popular EWF songs performed here: "Evil," "Devotion," and "Mighty Mighty," which is almost 11 minutes long.
Of course, the band would see its biggest success between 1975 and 1980, with such R&B pop ballads as "That's The Way Of The World," "Sing A Song," "Get Away," "After The Love Is Gone," and "Boogie Wonderland." The group fell off the charts during the 1980s and 1990s when the members all pursued other projects. Singer Phillip Bailey scored a #1 hit with Phil Collins called "East Lover."
The band returned in the early 1990s, but by then Maurice White had been stricken with multiple sclerosis and was no longer able to perform with the band.