Earth, Wind & Fire members Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson covered a lot of ground during a recent three-part interview with Yahoo! Music to promote their new album, “Now, Then & Forever,” that includes the hit lead single “My Promise.”
The band celebrating more than 40 years in the music business, shared some interesting stories about a few of their milestone achievements.
Their 1979 song “Boogie Wonderland,” for instance, has a compelling backstory.
The soul band known for having one of R&B’s most respected, authentic and timeless sounds admits to having some hesitation about making a Disco record.
“We weren’t that big fans of Disco,” Bailey said during Part 3 of the exclusive interview. “We thought it was a little simple for what we were doing, but we found this song, ‘Boogie Wonderland.’ Al McKay had produced it on another band. [Earth, Wind & Fire founder] Maurice [White] produced it for Earth, Wind & Fire, and adding the Emotions to it, we did the elaborate arrangement and whoa it became one of the biggest songs of our catalog.”
In Part 3, the band also covers some of the basics, the origins of the name Earth, Wind & Fire, the meaning behind their song “Serpentine Fire” and their breakup in 1983.
Though Earth, Wind & Fire also has a reputation for incorporating positive messages into its songs like “Shining Star,” “Keep Your Head to the Sky,” “Devotion” and new track “Sign On,” the members said their motivation was simply driven by their upbringing.
“For us, we’ve just been true to who we are,” Bailey said. “We never overthought the message aspect of Earth, Wind & Fire. We pretty much were all raised the same … We just wanted to contribute positivity in our music and humanity.”
Also, in Part 2, the band discusses White recording the song “Bad Girls” with Solange Knowles, working with OutKast and Kenny G. on a cover of the rap group’s EWF-inspired hit “I Like The Way You Move,” their views on sampling as well as Bailey’s son joining the band as a musician and producer.
It’s been eight years since EWF released its last album, “Illumination.” In Part 1, the group said it was important to maintain its original essence. After nearly completing recording an earlier version of the album, they started over.
“We had cut a body of work,” Johnson said. “Had almost completed the record, and Phil went back and listened to it and said it wasn’t quite it. So we had to do some listening.”
In Part I, the group talks about working with producers Larry Dunn and Neal Pogue, getting the blessings of founder Maurice White, and why they appreciate their careers more today than before.