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The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience: “Setting The Record Straight” Part II

Monday, March 24th, 2008

The Philippine Star (as of 3/24/2008)

Another rejoinder to EWF minor ‘issue’

Here’s yet another rejoinder to the Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) minor “issue,” sent to Funfare by Danee Samonte (a.k.a. Steve O’Neal) who produced the recent series of EWF shows here. It’s hopefully the last “last” word on the matter:

Hi Ricky,

Al McKay is fuming over that guy Salvatos’ letter.

Please print this:

If you can call Wings with Paul McCartney a cover band because they perform Beatles songs, then it’s okay to call Al McKay’s Earth Wind & Fire Experience a cover band.

Let’s call a spade a spade and be fair. Al McKay was a vital member of Earth Wind & Fire and has every right in the world to perform the hits September, Sing a Song, etc. because he wrote them together with Maurice White, recorded, arranged and performed them, too. It’s true that Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson are Hall of Famers but what Mr. Salvato (One of those who wrote to Funfare, reacting to the original Funfare item. - RFL) failed to mention was Al McKay was with them and received the same accolade when they got inducted.

Another point to correct: Maurice White doesn’t perform live anymore. He has stopped performing live since the early ’90s due to Parkinson’s Disease.

When Earth Wind & Fire broke up back in the ’80s, Maurice and Philip pursued solo careers and left original members Verdine White, Fred White, Johnny Graham, Andrew Wolfolk and Ralph Johnson in the cold. Al McKay took these guys and formed a group called “Al McKay All Stars” and got bookings everywhere. In fact, the Earth Wind & Fire that performed in the Philippines in the early ’90s wasn’t really Earth Wind & Fire but the Al McKay All Stars.

The Earth Wind & Fire that performs nowadays features only three originals (Philip, Verdine and Ralph). They use the name on lease which they renew every year with Maurice White (who owns the name Earth, Wind & Fire). Philip Bailey himself commented, “In my estimation, We haven’t made a great record since Al McKay and Charles Stepney (EWF’s song writer and producer) left.”

Al McKay’s group has two originals - him and Mike Harris - and they get bookings from Africa to Europe to South America to Asia the whole year round.


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The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience: “Setting The Record Straight” Part I

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008


The Philippine Star
Entertainment (as of 3/19/2008 12:59 AM)

Last Word On Earth, Wind & Fire Minor ‘Issue’

The rejoinder (published in this corner over the weekend) to the Earth, Wind & Fire story drew yet another rejoinder, this time from “Long Tall” Howard who titled his e-mail “The real story on Al McKay’s All-Star Earth, Wind & Fire Experience.” (McKay’s group, which performed in a series of concerts here recently, calls itself “Earth, Wind & Fire Experience” to differentiate it from the other Earth, Wind & Fire group also doing a world tour.)

Dear Ricky,

I chanced upon an e-mail from a certain Rich Salvato, who did not even give an address, and a certain Mark Young of The Fame Factory last March 15 in Funfare and I just could not take it sitting down. Here’s the real story:

I am “Long Tall” Howard, one of the radio jocks of RJ100.3 and at the same time the artist handler and tour coordinator of Steve O’Neal Productions. Since I was in the midst of everything during the four-day concert tour of Al McKay’s All-Stars, I felt it would be right to clarify some matters of which I was part of. The concert was never billed as “The Earth, Wind & Fire” but as “The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience with the Al McKay All-Stars.”

As a matter of fact, I even got into an argument with Al McKay himself during a guesting on Umagang Kay Ganda on ABS-CBN. I was in charge of coordinating with the TV show’s hosts at that time and after a miscue Donita Rose, one of the hosts who was to interview the group (Al and the three singers), was replaced by Edu Manzano. I handed a piece of paper to Donita before the interview to mention that the group was the Earth, Wind & Fire Experience with the Al McKay All-Stars.

There was a mix-up and Edu introduced them as the Earth, Wind & Fire without no malice intended. The guys did an a cappella of some EWF songs and then went to the holding room where Al McKay blew his top and told me that it was wrong to introduce them as the Earth, Wind & Fire because it was clear that they were advertised in the posters and print ads as “The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience,” and because of Umagang Kay Ganda incident he was going to cancel the shows.

I talked to Edu about the matter. He and Kim Atienza, another host, went back on the air to clarify the matter while showing the poster. Even before the Al McKay All-Stars arrived, some people had been trying to dispute their being the Earth, Wind & Fire and that none of the group were original members of the EWF. There were even text messages going around saying so.

In fairness to Al McKay and his group, they have been clear on the matter that they were not the Earth, Wind & Fire during the negotiations with Steve O’Neal Productions. It seemed that some people were out to create the impression that the Al McKay group was claiming to be Earth, Wind & Fire. Well, whoever spread the rumor might find the whole thing blowing up in their faces. I was even used by a certain group to book the EWF at the Araneta Coliseum last December but nothing happened.

I was in all their four shows in the Philippine leg of their tour and never did these guys claim that they were the Earth, Wind & Fire; they always introduced themselves as the Al McKay All-Stars. Well, I hope Maurice, Philip, Verdine and Ralph get the message right this time because whoever is spreading the wrong information here in the Philippines are the ones to blame; they should know who they are. Should anyone need more information on the matter, I can be contacted during my radio show on RJ100.3.


“Long Tall” Howard

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