- Original members: Maurice White (vocals, kalimba, drums, percussion), Verdine White (bass, percussion, vocals), Philip Bailey (vocals, conga, percussion, kalimba), Ralph Johnson (drums, percussion, vocals), B. David Whitworth (percussion, vocals), Myron McKinley (keyboards, musical director), John Paris (drums, vocals), Philip Bailey Jr. (vocals)
- Essential listening: “Sing a Song” (1975)
- Who they inspired: Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Rick James, Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Outkast, Prince, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield
Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) stands alone as the biggest funk band ever, with tracks that shot to the top of the charts throughout the ‘70s. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, earned six Grammys, and sold more than 90 million albums just in the United States. EWF stayed ahead of the times, incorporating disco, funk, jazz, doo-wop, soul, Latin, and pop into their tracks over the years. Additional evidence of the band’s lasting legacy is apparent in how many artists borrow EWF tracks: Everyone from Public Enemy to LL Cool J have sampled tunes from the band’s staggering catalog.