Over the past few weeks, the music world has been rocked by the loss of three very talented African American contributors. They include a singer, a drummer, and a producer who all influenced popular music, primarily in the 1970s and 1980s.
Fred White (January 13, 1955 – January 1, 2023) was a child drumming prodigy. Fred was one of the members to join the group founded by his older brothers Maurice and Verdine. Fred’s death was announced on Instagram by Verdine White, who did not give a cause.
“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member, our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddie’ White,” Verdine wrote. As well as his drumming success, White was a wonderful brother who was “always entertaining and delightfully mischievous,” he added. Verdine said his “amazing and talented” sibling was now “drumming with the angels.”
White began drumming at nine years old, and before officially joining Earth, Wind & Fire, Fred White toured and played drums as a child for Donny Hathaway, playing drums and providing backing vocals on the 1972 album “Donny Hathaway Live,” recorded August 24 – 30, 1971, when he was just 16.
In 1974, he joined Earth Wind & Fire, whose best-known hits include “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.” A year later, the group shot to global fame with its triple platinum album “That’s the Way of the World,” which featured the iconic ballad “Reasons.”
The funk and soul group became one of the best-selling music groups of all time, with more than 90 million records sold worldwide. Over the years the group won six Grammys and four American Music Awards, as well as entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and gaining a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Anita Marie Pointer (January 23, 1948 – December 31, 2022) was a member of the group The Pointer Sisters, along with her sisters June, Ruth, and Bonnie. Anita co-wrote and was the lead singer on their hit song “Fairytale,” which garnered them their first Grammy Award in 1975. The group had 13 US top 20 hits between 1973 and 1985, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.
Anita Pointer was the lead singer on many of their hits, including “Yes We Can Can,” “Fire,” “Slow Hand,” and “I’m So Excited.” The group’s other U.S. top 10 hits are “Fire” (1979), “He’s So Shy” (1980), “Slow Hand” (1981), the remixed version of “I’m So Excited” (1984), and “Neutron Dance” (1985). They won two more Grammys, in 1984, for the top 10 hits “Automatic” and “Jump (For My Love).”
Thomas Randolph Bell (January 26, 1943 – December 22, 2022) was a singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, pianist, and composer. Thom Bell is best known as one of the architects of “Philly Soul” in the 1970s, as a producer and songwriter for the Delfonics, Stylistics, and Spinners. In 2016, Thom Bell was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, in a ceremony he attended right here in Nashville, Tennessee.