SHINING STAR by Philip Bailey


Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire
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Earth, Wind & Fire lead singer Bailey recounts his groovy life at the center of one of the most influential bands ever to don gold lamé capes and platform boots.

The author was just a fresh-faced kid barely out of his teens when an older, wiser musician named Maurice White turned him onto "The Concept," the elder artist's genre-defying vision to transform a somewhat motley version of Earth, Wind & Fire into one of the most powerful musical ensembles in the world. As remarkable as it seems, the amiable young percussionist with the smooth falsetto voice and rough family background was being tapped to play a pivotal role in the maestro's grand design. Covering both the joys of "making it" in the funk-filled 1970s, as well as the costs of achieving that kind of early stratospheric success, Bailey and his co-writers consistently tell a singular musical story with an impressive fluidity that feels brisk even while covering lots of ground. Longtime fans will no doubt appreciate the time devoted to exploring the production of the signature EWF sound, while also getting to know the players behind chart toppers like "September," "Shining Star" and "Boogie Wonderland." But Bailey doesn't stop there, nor does he ignore the seamier side of the EWF story or his own womanizing. "From the first day Janet and I were married, I had no intention of remaining faithful,” he writes. “As a child I didn't witness much faithfulness in my parents' generation." Bailey seems just as candid about his complicated relationship with White, a man he continues to respect and revere on many levels, even while confronting the many business-oriented transgressions that led to EWF's initial implosion. Ultimately, the author succeeds in illuminating his life both inside and outside his legendary band.

An energetic memoir about a complex individual and his music.

Pub Date: April 15th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-670-78588-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2014


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