Archive for February, 2016

Remembering Reese

February 5, 2016

Reese in Egypt

You never know…how much someone can mean to not only your life but the lives of those around you.
For the past few hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the passing of Maurice White. Not only from fans around the world, but from my family and friends who know of my personal connection to him and Earth, Wind & Fire. The Facebook messages, phone calls, emails and text messages have been A-MAY-ZING and touched my grieving heart and soul more than you can ever know.
Imagine being a fan of an artist and/or band since high school, having all of their music, seeing them in concert multiple times over the years, following them across Texas and Oklahoma for 4 consecutive nights, and then, meeting Al McKay one Saturday morning at the movies in Hollywood.
Because of that chance meeting, which HAD to be orchestrated by God himself, my life, professionally and personally, changed forever. Because of that day, not only was I allowed into the EWF family, by extension, so were my family and friends.
Little known fact: my uncle, former Los Angeles City Councilman David Cunningham, was the original sponsor of the band’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He did so simply because I asked him to.
Since the news of Reese’s passing, I’ve been reminded by L. Bishop Austin, Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn and others that they met him and the band through me. I am humbled by your mentioning me at this time and so glad that I was able to share my experiences with you.
A great writer, Steven Ivory, wrote what I consider to be the greatest tribute to Maurice and the band he created and led to the very highest heights of the music industry. Writing in SOUL Newspaper about the release of what many consider the band’s best album, “All ‘N All,” in 1977, Ivory’s tagline for his article was, “It’s Hard Being Funky and Saved at the Same Time.”
That was Reese (or Rooney to some) in ten words. The thing was, he and the fellas made it look and sound so damn easy because of the joy their music brought to the world.
I once asked him what was the best thing about Earth, Wind & Fire at its peak. I don’t know exactly what I expected him to say, but he didn’t mention hit records, album sales, being the first black act to top both the Billboard Pop Singles and Album charts at the same time, awards, etc, etc. Here’s what he said: “Charles, I had a band that could give me everything I asked for and needed, whenever I wanted and needed it, and they never let me down.”
Reese, you never let us down. Your music and lyrics, your positive messages and your incredible vision that was and is Earth, Wind & Fire are forever imbedded in people around the globe. Your influence on generations of musicians and live concert performers is eternal and unchanging.
Thank you for everything you gave me and mean to my life. We are linked not only by our beloved Memphis but by the spirit of life and love you shared with the world.
May Almighty God bless your eternal soul, your family and friends.

Maurice Parker White – December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016

February 5, 2016

Reese and Al

These two incredibly gifted musicians and men are the reasons I ever achieved anything in the music industry.

I met Al McKay (on the right) in 1980 and he is my “musical godfather” as he brought me into the EWF circle. Because of him, a few years later in 1987, the man on the left, Maurice White, brought me back into the circle when the band reformed for the “Touch The World” album and subsequent tour.

Reese left us on Wednesday and while his physical presence is no longer here, the genius of his music and the incredible legacy of Earth, Wind & Fire will be with us always and forever.

To his brothers and sisters, sons, family – God bless and keep you in his amazing grace and love. To the extended Earth, Wind & Fire family wherever we may be, let us rejoice in what Reese brought to and means to us. I use the many lessons he taught me as I go through my daily life, both personal and professional as I know you do as well.

Keep Your Head To The Sky.