Earth, Wind & Fire: A look back at one of 20th century's greatest bands

“Earth, Wind and Fire’s” success was not only in their influence on pop culture. The number of records sold and the accolades the band received, both as a group and as individuals, could not go unnoticed. (minds-eye/Flickr)

This past Monday was officially Earth, Wind and Fire Day, providing us with a great opportunity to check on one of the most successful and influential bands to make its mark on American pop culture.

The date for “Earth, Wind and Fire Day” is, of course, Sept. 21, as in the classic line, “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” from the song, “September.” Originally released in 1978, that song went on to become the No. 1 song on the U.S. R&B chart, No. 8 on the Billboard’s top 100 and No. 8 on the U.K.’s billboard charts.

“September” is also a great example of how “Earth, Wind and Fire” remains a significant influence on pop culture today, not just in the United States, but around the world. 

The first season finale of “The Cleveland Show” closes with a cameo appearance by “Earth, Wind and Fire,” who play “September” as the credits fade in. The song was listed as an official campaign theme for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. Brazilian soap opera “Boogie Oogie” has used this song, and “Earth, Wind and Fire” played “September” at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Olympics.

Though “September” is one of “Earth, Wind and Fire’s” most famous songs, it is only one example of the way that the band transcended various genres of music. Officially, the band has played R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin and African music. 

“Earth, Wind and Fire’s” success was not only in their influence on pop culture. The number of records sold and the accolades the band received, both as a group and as individuals, could not go unnoticed. 

To date, the group has sold more than 100 million records, which makes “Earth, Wind and Fire” one of the best-selling groups of all time. 

“Earth, Wind and Fire” has received no less than 20 Grammy nominations, winning six. The group has received four American Music Awards and was nominated for sixteen more. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and, to cap it all off, has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Those accolades are by no means the full extent of what “Earth, Wind and Fire” has accomplished. In addition to awards from publishing awards groups and the NAACP, Rolling Stone magazine said of the group, “they have changed the sound of black pop.”

All of these numbers, accolades and references are great, but the only way to truly appreciate the awesome music that “Earth, Wind and Fire” has created. The stirring beats, the unique horns and the sheer optimism that permeates their music no matter what the subject is amazing.

So to commemorate the passing of another “Earth, Wind and Fire” day, I can only recommend that you fire up your iPod, listen to “September” and “remember the true love we share today."


Edward Pankowski is the life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.