by Stefan Wyeth | 4,7 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 5 Minutes
Verdine White Interview: Band of Brothers

Verdine White Interview: Band of Brothers  ·  Source: Niall Carson


We catch up with the one and only Verdine White, best known as a founding member and the Bassist of the legendary band, Earth, Wind & Fire.


This interview was originally conducted by Paul Rigg for Planet Guitar.

Earth, Wind & Fire have sold over 100 million records, and siblings Maurice, Verdine, and Fred White have been at its heart from the start.

The band’s unique blend of Afro-pop, soul, jazz, funk, and R&B has led them to seven Grammy awards, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a string of hits, including September, Boogie Wonderland, After the Love Has Gone, Let’s Groove and Fantasy.

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Verdine White Interview: Band of Brothers

Today Gearnews interviews bassist and co-songwriter Verdine White, who is happy to talk about his beloved brothers, favourite musical moments, and introducing his gifted granddaughter to rock royalty.

Gearnews: “Verdine, we are thrilled to welcome you!”

Verdine White: Good morning from Los Angeles!

GN: You are soon to tour Earth, Wind & Fire with Lionel Richie, how are the preparations going?


VW: Great! We are starting in the U.S. first, with 25 shows. It’s going to be huge!

GN: You will be with long-time colleagues vocalist Philip Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson …

VW: We are together almost every day. Our life is an ongoing plane ride!

Ibanez SR5005-OL
Ibanez SR5005-OL
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“…life is an ongoing plane ride!”

GN: Is there anything you are especially looking forward to?

VW: We are just happy the tour sold out so fast. I can’t even get a ticket! [laughs].

GN: Going back to your beginnings, you grew up in a big family; were you always close?

VW: Very tight-knit. There were nine of us and now there are five left…

GN: Was there music around from the start?

VW: All the time. We listened to the radio station WVON; had jazz and gospel that my father liked, such as Mahalia Jackson; and played down in the basement every day. All we did was music.


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Starting on Upright Bass

GN: You started on double bass before turning to electric; did that process help you?

VW: Yes, upright bass was great because I had the chance to study classical with a wonderful teacher from the Chicago Symphony orchestra called Radi Lah, who I took lessons from on Thursdays, and then on weekends I learned bass with the late great Louis Satterfield from The Phenix Horns – so I had the best from both worlds.

GN: In 1969 Maurice was starting to make an impact, moved from Chicago to LA, and then asked you to join him; was that an easy decision for you to go?

VW: No, I was 18; nothing is difficult when you are 18! [laughs].

GN: Then began your meteoric rise. If you were asked to choose three highlights from your career, which come to mind?

VW: There are so many! Perhaps the first record with Shining Star; the movies, including [the 1978 film] Sgt. Pepper’s; and then about three years ago, when we did The Kennedy Center Honors. We were the first group of colour to receive those honors.


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Warwick Streamer LX 5 Masterbuilt PG
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Topping the Charts

GN: With ‘That’s the Way of the World’ and ‘Shining Star’, you became the first Black act to top both the Billboard album and singles charts. Among your achievements how does that rate?

VW: Well, it was at a time when you didn’t really see African Americans reach the top of the charts. We must thank my late brother Maurice for his leadership and vision because he understood where a group like us should go.

GN: You’ve seen civil rights fought for from Martin Luther King to Black Lives Matter; do you believe that there has been progress?

VW: We are progressing, but there is always more to do. We hope we are leaving a legacy to inspire the next generation.

Viersen, Germany - July 9. 2020: Closeup of Earth, Wind & Fire vinyl record cover collection.
Viersen, Germany – July 9. 2020: Closeup of Earth, Wind & Fire vinyl record cover collection.

Verdine’s Community Work

GN: You also help young people philanthropically through the Verdine White Performing Arts Center….

VW: Yes, we are doing some great work. This is our twentieth year! We are feeding young kids in urban communities so they can have breakfast before school.

GN: How do the children react when you go?

VW: They love to take selfies! But some don’t know me and it’s their parents who get excited!

GN: And all proceeds from your Sadowsky signature go to the charity…

VW: Absolutely. Roger Sadowsky is a wonderful friend and I have been playing his basses for over 25 years. They sound immaculate…

Warwick RB Streamer LX 4 SB HP
Warwick RB Streamer LX 4 SB HP
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Remembering his Brothers

GN: Sadly, your brothers Maurice and Fred have now passed; how do you remember them?

VW: They are in my heart forever. Fred passed away recently, on January 2. He was a wonderful person; we played music together as kids. Maurice was my mentor and leader. I couldn’t have asked for two better brothers.

Family is still at the core of what is most important to Verdine. This is shown, for example, by a touching YouTube video of his granddaughter ReinaNai singing September as he accompanies her on bass and glances at her proudly. He explains that she has just auditioned for a New York off-Broadway play and that he recently took her to Clive Davis’ (ex-president of Colombia Records) party where she met Sheryl Crow and Frankie Valli.

Additionally, Verdine has been married to Honey Cone founder Shelly Clark for 42 years and says if there is any ‘secret’ it is meeting the right person at the right time, with love and friendship. “She’s a go-getter with high energy; you’d like her more than me…” he laughs, “I should get off and let you interview her!”


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Sadowsky MetroLine 21 Verdine White 5 W
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  • Viersen, Germany - July 9. 2020: Closeup of Earth, Wind & Fire vinyl record cover collection.: Shutterstock / Ralf Liebhold
Verdine White Interview: Band of Brothers

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11 responses to “Verdine White Interview: Band of Brothers”

    Roman Kendall says:

    thank you sir, for the incredible music and joy all these years – and the GROOVE, my God!

    Fred Summers says:

    They are the best show band out there. Thank you Verdine!

    Raymond English says:

    I’ve seen them live at least 10 times and they have never disappointed me!!! To be a white man and grove to there music has been life changing!!! Thanks for the funk and grove you’ve put in my step!!!!

    Lawrence Alexander says:

    They are a good band the only other band who is better than them is the Isley. Brother

    Emily says:

    EWF is the best band ever and will never be replaced!

    JOSEPH BRANT says:

    The baddest band in the land, the elements of the universe, Earth, Wind & Fire.

    Rick Trotman says:

    Your music has been in almost every great highlight of my life, from “Shining Star” to “Africano” to my mom’s favorite “September “. She passed in September, so EW&F/ Mr. V. White, from my heart, THANK YOU.

    Constance Dennard says:

    EWF gave me strength and happiness during my early twenties. While listening during quiet moments and realizing the lyrics came spiritual to me never dawned on me. I have Maurice to thank for that. Now I have Happy Feelings!

    Jack says:

    I’m an 80 year old EWF groupie who still can’t get enough. Way of the world and September are my favorites but I
    Enjoyed all of their songs. My very best Dowop is their version of Where have all the flowers gone!! They were by far the best band ever!!

    Calvin Peace says:

    EWF is the best band ever in the world I have seen them when ever they come to town I love all of the songs made I hope to see them again soon

    Carl Watts says:

    I’ve been on board since 1974 and have every album. I studied both Maurice and Verdine religiously. I would be dead or in jail because I had no role model for living life. I was an orphan in my family but to listen and practice what love was about according to EWF made me open and expand my mind. I always wanted to play as good as Verdine but I realize no one’s that good so I continue to listen and learn at 67 I can only be a producer for future musicians.

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