1976 Earth, Wind & Fire – Getaway
Maurice White initially grew up in Memphis, but moved to Chicago when he became a teenager. He studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and played drums in local nightclubs.
He became an accomplished studio musician for Chess Records and played on hit records. He joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio in 1966. By 1969, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead partnered with Maurice and the trio began recording as the Salty Peppers.
After their moderate success proved to only be local, they moved to Los Angeles. Maurice renamed the group Earth, Wind & Fire, based on astrological signs and elements. The group eventually signed with Warner Brothers Records and began issuing albums in 1971. Singer Philip Bailey (and other musicians) joined the group the next year.
Clive Davis bought the group’s contract from Warner Brothers and signed the band to CBS/Columbia Records. A series of moderate R&B hits followed through 1974.
The band signed to create the soundtrack for the 1975 film That’s the Way of the World. Maurice and Charles Stepney worked together to produce the soundtrack at the Caribou Ranch in 1975. They correctly predicted that the movie would fail at the box office. To avoid fallout from the looming failure, the released the album and the single Shooting Star before the film came out. They were correct about the film, and their single topped both the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.
The band released a successful live album in late 1975, and Maurice and Charles then began work on a new album the next year. At age 45, Charles had a heart attack and died, leaving Maurice had to finish production of the album without him.
The first single from the album Spirit was Getaway. The record reached #12 on the Hot 100 in 1976. It also topped the R&B chart and reached #12 on the Billboard Dance Singles chart.
The band’s tour for the album introduced new flourishes: pyrotechnics, magic, laser lights, flying pyramids, and levitating guitarists. The group even hired a magician and his assistant to help them stage the group rising into a pyramid and then disappearing – Doug Henning and David Copperfield.
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