The Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist during the glory years was 71 – Deadline
Andrew Woolfolk, who played saxophone for Grammy-winning R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire during the heyday of the 1970s and early 80s, has died after a long illness. He was 71 years old. EWF’s Philip Bailey broke the news on social media.
“Good memories. Great Talent,” the singer wrote of Woolfolk. “Funny. Competitive. Live spirit. And always stylish. Booski… I’ll see you on the other side, my friend. See the Instagram post below.
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Woolfolk played with Earth, Wind & Fire while among the country’s biggest R&B groups, joining the group in 1973 and playing on its gold or platinum albums of Head to the sky to 1983 power light and beyond. The group scored eight consecutive Top 10 albums from 1975 to 1981, including topping the charts It’s the way of the world and live set Gratitude.
Earth, Wind & Fire also had seven Top 10 pop singles during this time, ranging from “Shining Star”, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1975 and won a Grammy, to “Let’s Groove”, which spent five weeks at No. 1. 3 in 1981. Their other greatest hits include “Sing a Song”, the Beatles cover “Got to Get You Into My Life” (from the 1978 sergeant. peppers film), disco classics “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” – the latter featuring the Emotions – and the two-time Grammy winner “After the Love Has Gone”. EWF also scored eight No. 1s on Billboard’s R&B singles chart.
The group amassed six Grammys from 1975 to 2005 and 17 nominations overall.
Watch the official “September” video here:
His 1978 compilation disc The best of earth, wind and fire reached #6 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 5 million units in the United States
Woolfolk and his bandmates appeared and wrote the score for the 1975 film This is the way of the world – later renamed Shining star – starring Harvey Keitel as the record executive tasked with breaking up the struggling young band. The album would become EWF’s true commercial breakthrough, spending three weeks atop the Billboard 200 and being named among rolling stones 500 greatest albums of all time.
The group was also widely known for their brightly colored outfits and elaborate, high-energy shows, including a gig at the 2005 Super Bowl Pregame Show.
Born October 11, 1950 in Texas and raised in Colorado, Woolfolk officially left the band in 1993 but reunited for later tours. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and Woolfolk performed a blistering sax solo during “Shining Star” at the induction ceremony.
The saxophonist also played on records by Valerie Carter and Deniece Williams and two of Bailey’s solo gospel records during EWF’s mid-’80s hiatus.
He was also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.