In black music of the Seventies, Earth Wind & Fire were the Beatles to Parliament-Funkadelic's Rolling Stones. There's no better example of EW&F's positive vibration and spiritual uplift than this million-selling Number One Pop/R&B hit from 1975, written by group members Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey. "Shining Star" was one of a brace of EW&F songs recorded for the soundtrack of That's The Way of the World, a racially charted music biz drama starring Harvey Keitel. The film didn't do much at the box office, but the Earth Wind & Fire LP of the same name became a massive hit that topped both the Pop and R&B album charts. "Shining Star" – a flawless fusion of funk rhythms, rock guitar, and the sanctified singing of White and Bailey – won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
Recently, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and talked with the Rock Hall about what it means to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and be recognized among some of the greatest rock and roll singers and songwriters of all time.
Ralph Johnson: "I was knocked out [upon learning about being inducted into the Hall of Fame], because it was one of those things; it's one of those things you hear about, if you're in the music industry and deeply entrenched as we were. It's one of those things you want to be a part of... you don't become eligible 'till like the 25 years after the release of your first album, and I was like ‘Whoa we've put some time in,’ so I was deeply honored – knocked out."
Verdine White: "Yeah, well I found out [Earth, Wind & Fire were being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] when we were in Paris, on the Berry White tour, and Maurice [White] had actually called and said 'I think we're going to get it this time,' because I think we were rejected seven times. So it was a big honor for us, because even in the L.A. Times, at the time they were saying groups that would get Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: David Bowie, The Stones – Jagger and everybody; Eric Clapton. And it said that we would never get one 'cause we were a disco group. At the time that was like early ’80s- middle ’80s and things like that. But it was a great honor, and to get it that night, it was really moving. And it's like getting, actually, an Oscar, right, for music; for what you do. Not to say that awards are everything, but it's a big deal to me.”