Maurice White, the founder of R&B funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, died in Los Angeles at age 74, a band spokesman said.
White died at his home on Wednesday night from natural causes, publicist Mark Young said. White had been battling Parkinson's disease since 1994.
"My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep," White's brother and fellow band member, Verdine White, said in a statement posted on the band's Facebook page.
"While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives," he added. "Thank you for your prayers and well wishes."
Earth, Wind & Fire was founded by White, a session drummer, in 1969 after he moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning band fused together rhythm and blues, gospel, funk, soul and African sounds, and enjoyed numerous hits, including Shining Star, Boogie Wonderland and September.
While White stopped touring with the band in 1994 due to health issues, he remained active in the songwriting and production of the group's music.
Earth, Wind and Fire marshaled an eclectic and energetic musical style to sell more than 90 million albums worldwide and earn multiple Grammy nominations and six Grammy Awards. White and another band member, Philip Bailey, received individual Grammys.
"Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music ... which somehow ended up becoming pop," Maurice White had written in an earlier previously on the group's website.
"We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners' spiritual content."He formed the group after a successful career as a drummer, aspiring to "do something that hadn't been done before," he wrote.
AAP, with New York Times
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