AceShowbiz - %cMaurice White%, who co-founded R'n'B group %cEarth, Wind & Fire%, died on Thursday, February 4 morning at the age of 74. The singer died in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, his younger brother and bandmate %cVerdine White% confirmed in a statement.
White had been battling Parkinson's disease since 1992 and had quit touring with the band since 1994 because of the illness. Although he remained active on the business side of the group, his health reportedly deteriorated in recent months.
"My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep," Verdine wrote in a statement. "While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes." The band also paid tribute to him on Twitter, writing, "The light is he, shining on you and me."
Earth, Wind & Fire was formed in 1969 and set the tone for soul music in the '70s with such hits as "Shining Star", "Sing a Song", "September" and "That's the Way of the World". The group would receive a lifetime achievement award later this month at the Grammy Awards.
"[Maurice White's] unerring instincts as a musician and showman helped propel the band to international stardom, influencing countless fellow musicians in the process," wrote Recording Academy President Neil Portnow in a statement.