By now you’ve heard that musical impresario Maurice White, 74, has gone on to the great “Boogie Wonderland” in the sky. Damn, damn, damn—I’ll be breaking crystal punch bowls all week!
White was the iconic co-founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, the premier live funk band for, like, 89 summers. And if you’re over 30, he was the ’70s soul gawd who masterminded the beats playing in the background when your daddy successfully laid his mack down to obtain your mom’s digits—leading to your eventual conception. By my calculations, that makes him your play uncle!
I grew up with the type of parents who didn’t believe that good music was made after the Carter administration. So even though I wasn’t alive at any point in the ’70s, EWF and Maurice White were musical fixtures in my early childhood. Parkinson’s disease largely diminished his stage presence in later years, but White was a bad momofoku in his prime. Here are five reasons Maurice White stayed winnin’ for, like, two decades.
1. Rocked a pushback Afro and didn’t care.
It says plainly in the Bible (check the index!) that an acceptable Afro shall be perfectly symmetrical, with equal proportions of sheen, billow and rotundancy. Enter Maurice White. It wasn’t that his ’fro lacked domage or appropriate billow. But his hairline was pushed way back. As a child, I was super confused about this. (Internal dialogue in 1984: “Why is that one guy so much older than the other guys? He looks young, but he’s got that George Jefferson hairline. I dunno, time for a glass of juice.”)
As an adult, however, I figured out that this was just his hairline and you had to deal with it. And you know what? It totally worked for him! Like the banged Afro of the Ohio Players’ Sugarfoot, White’s throwback hairline Afro just came to suit him. Could you imagine him with anything else? White said f–k a Bigen and we loved him for it!
Don’t let all that mysticism and world-religion lyricism fool you: White could probably have put down the mic and kicked an errant ninja’s ass if needed. The bulky trend that would eventually bring us the likes of 50 Cent in the aughts wasn’t a thing in EWF’s heyday—men tended to be much more sticklike. And while White was certainly lithe, he was less like a stick and more like a panther. My man had quads and biceps on deck. Skinny-thick game, proper. You better look like a soul-sangin’ action figure!
3. Wore tight pants and defied you to challenge his masculinity.
There are few male musicians who can rock skintight pants with confidence, Prince being one of them. But before the Purple One, White was on stages with his thighs straight poppin’. Stage presence was EWF’s hallmark, and White never disappointed—kickin’, runnin’, jumpin’, all while rockin’ pants so tight, it looked as if tailors had to sew them on. Yet he managed to ooze undeniably masculine sex appeal. On everything, I promise you, White was the original Mr. “Uh Oh Where Your Ho At?” If you think you’re lonely now, wait until you get your chick snatched by bruh in body-con pants.