They went on to become one of the most successful bands of all time, selling more than 90 million records and acquiring 20 Grammy nominations for hits such as Boogie Wonderland and September.
Still touring with the band, Verdine, 66, lives in LA with his wife Shelly, a former Ikette who sings for R&B group Honey Cone, with whom he has one son.
“As a kid we had a lot of music around the house, but I didn’t think too much about music as a career until I was 13 and 14 and became serious about the bass. I saw a double bass in my high school orchestra class and played it and loved it. It was too big for a lot of the kids to play – it was for me too, I just didn’t know it.
“Later my older brother Maurice got me an upright bass from one of his buddies, and I started practising and taking classical lessons with Rudi Velah from The Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
“On the weekends I’d play bass guitar with the late great Louis Satterfield, who worked with Maurice at Chess Records in Chicago and also became our trombone player in Earth, Wind & Fire. I’d play R&B songs in nightclubs so had the best of both worlds.
“My dad was a doctor but played the saxophone in his spare time so insisted on us really learning our instruments. It was good, too, because growing up in a big city like Chicago, music kept you out of trouble. The same year I got a four-year paid scholarship at the American Conservatory of Music, Maurice called me and asked me to come to California to join him.
He said he’d teach me everything I needed to know, “I was 18 when I moved to California. We got busy putting Earth, Wind & Fire together. When we started opening for John Sebastian, Clive Davis saw us and signed us to Columbia Records. We’d had minor hits in Detroit, Pittsburgh and another in DC, but Clive changed things so we could have a long-term career.
“There have been a lot of memorable moments and career highs: Madison Square Garden, when our parents saw us perform, the Hollywood Bowl, our first Gold Record, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“The band has changed a lot over the years, but I have so much passion for it. Maurice’s passing two years ago made us even more committed to what he was striving for. I still love playing our songs, especially Fantasy. It still rocks the house.
“It’s been a couple of years since we played in the UK and I’m looking forward to the Love Supreme Jazz Festival. I’m a child of the music business and I still love performing.”