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Maurice White dies: President Obama pays tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire founder

‘Only he could get everyone … to let the groove move them,’ POTUS says

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Rob Verhorst/Redferns, Inset: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Barack Obama eulogized Maurice White on Friday, the day after news broke that the Earth, Wind & Fire founder had died at age 74.

“Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Maurice White,” Obama wrote of the seven-time Grammy winner in a message posted to social media. “With his brothers and bandmates of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice fused jazz, soul, funk and R&B into a quintessentially American sound that captured millions of fans around the world. Their playlist is timeless, the one that still brings us together at birthdays and barbecues, weddings and family reunions.”

The president continued, “Only Maurice could make such sophisticated songs so catchy. Only he could inspire generations of such diverse artists. And only he could get everyone — old and young, black and white — to let the groove move them on the dance floor. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maurice’s family, friends and bandmates. He is the shining star in heaven tonight.”

White died in his sleep Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Earth, Wind & Fire are set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys later this month.