Earth, Wind & Fire Reflects on Change over Decades
By Robert Pace
Having just released their 21st studio album, Earth, Wind & Fire reflected on the differences between their beginning days in the '70s and now, including their fan base.
ET caught up with the ageless R&B/soul group earlier in the week as they rehearsed for a pair of shows in New York before performing in Atlantic City and Washington D.C. over the weekend to get some insight into their new album, Now, Then & Forever.
"I think it typifies that we're here now, we were here then, and we'll be here forever," singer and bassist Verdine White said. "Well, the music will be—let me clear that up."
The group released the album, their first studio album in eight years, on September 10 and has watched it soar up the U.S. charts to as high as No. 6 on R&B charts and No. 11 overall. Now at it for over four decades, they discussed how things have changed for them over their many years in the music industry.
"Well, the 'now': We're having a lot of fun," said White, passing the rest of the answer off to singer and percussionist Ralph Johnson. "But the 'then': We were traveling in station wagons, driving across country...but everything has changed. We have a very smooth organization that runs very smoothly from day to day."
Earth, Wind & Fire has stood the test of time in large part due to their ability to continually engage new sets of fan bases. The band, which released its first album in 1971, has noticed an endearing trend in the fans that show up to its concerts.
"We're finding that people that grew up with our music are bringing their grandchildren to the show," said Johnson. "And it turns out to be a family affair because we have everybody from album collectors to CD collectors, way back to eight-tracks, all the way up to iPods, iPads," added White.
Although music has changed just as much as the devices used for playing it has over the generations, the band says it wanted to keep its most recent album on par with some of its original albums recorded in the '70s.
"We actually listened back to the classic Earth, Wind & Fire records...and really started to dig deep and finally we've come up with a record that is really not a reinvention but a back-to-basics kind of record," said singer and percussionist Philip Bailey.
Watch the video above for more from Earth, Wind & Fire on their latest album Now, Then & Forever, which is now in stores.