The Earth, Wind & Fire Experience: ‘Setting The Record Straight’ Part II

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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