Drummer and EWF primary songwriter Maurice White got his musical start in Chicago as studio percussionist at Chess Records, backing up the likes of Etta James, Fontella Bass, Sonny Stitt and Ramsey Lewis. White joined Ramsey Lewis as a member of his trio in 1967, and remained with Lewis' group for 3 years. This period helped shape not only his musical vision, but also concepts of performance and staging. After leaving the trio, White went on to form a new group, the Salty Peppers, with some friends. This group, after moving to L.A., adding several new members and signing with Warner Bros., would become Earth, Wind And Fire (named after the three elements in White's astrological sign). The self-titled "Earth, Wind And Fire," released in 1970, was the group's debut and one of two albums (the other being "The Need Of Love") released on the Warner label. The album combined a big horn sound and jazz and latin influences with the emerging funk style. Though there were no hit singles, the two Warner Bros. albums laid the groundwork for the hits that would come after the group moved to Columbia Records in 1972.
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