Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk dies at 71 after six year illness

Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk has passed away at the age of 71.

The artist died on Sunday after he spent the past six years battling an illness, the band’s lead falsetto singer Philip Bailey told TMZ on Tuesday.

The musician was one of the original members of the band and helped them create some of the biggest hit songs of the 1970s, including September, Boogie Wonderland and Shining Star.

Earth, Wind & Fire has sold over 90million records and is considered one of the most successful bands of all time.

Sad loss: Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk has passed away at the age of 71. Seen in the 1980s in the Netherlands

Sad loss: Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk has passed away at the age of 71. Seen in the 1980s in the Netherlands

Bailey shared: ‘I met him in High School, and we quickly became friends and band mates. Andrew Paul Woolfolk was his name. We lost him today.’

He then said: ‘Funny. Competitive. Quick witted. And always styling. Booski…I’ll see you on the other side, my friend.’

Woolfolk also worked on the hit songs Reasons, Let’s Groove, That’s the Way of the World, Sing a Song, Fantasy, and After the Love Has Gone.

He had talent: The musician was one of the original members of the band and helped them create some of the biggest hit songs of the 1970s, including September, Boogie Wonderland and Shining Star;  seen in 1982

He had talent: The musician was one of the original members of the band and helped them create some of the biggest hit songs of the 1970s, including September, Boogie Wonderland and Shining Star; seen in 1982

With a pal on stage: Andrew, right, with Maurice White, left in 1982

With a pal on stage: Andrew, right, with Maurice White, left in 1982

During his long career, Andrew also collaborated with artists Deniece Williams, Phil Collins and Stanley Turrentine.

In the late Eighties Woolfolk took a break from Earth, Wind & Fire but then joined up with them again to perform and tour after the millennium.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

A high point: The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000;  seen in 1972

A high point: The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000; seen in 1972

Earth, Wind & Fire is one of the most dynamic bands to come out of the 1970s as they had several hit songs that included jazz, R&B, soul, funk, disco and pop.

The band was founded in Chicago in 1969 by Maurice White and they went by the name the Salty Peppers; their first hit was La La Time but it was not a chart topper.

But when White moved to Los Angeles he had better luck as he added Sherry Scott and Yackov Ben Israel.

Early days: The band was founded in Chicago in 1969 by Maurice White and they went by the name the Salty Peppers;  their first hit was La La Time but it was not a chart topper.  from left, Lorry Dunn, Andrew and Philip Bailey in 1972

Early days: The band was founded in Chicago in 1969 by Maurice White and they went by the name the Salty Peppers; their first hit was La La Time but it was not a chart topper. from left, Lorry Dunn, Andrew and Philip Bailey in 1972

The self-titled album that came out in 1971 made waves and The Need Of Love came next with a jazzy feel.

In 1972, White shook up the band added vocalist Helena Davis, Ronnie Laws on the flute and saxophone, rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, vocalist Philip Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson to the group. Davis was replaced by Jessica Cleaves.

Then later Andrew stepped in to replace Laws.

The band had a new sound that made it come together.

And it was EW&F’s fourth studio album, Head to the Sky, from 1973 that finally gained some traction.

That’s the Way of the World in 1975 went to No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Soul Albums charts thanks to the singles Shining Star and That’s the Way of the World.

The band has morphed over the decades with more disco then a mire electric sound. Their last album was The Classic Christmas Album from 2015.

The band must go on: (LR) Verdine White, Philip Bailey, and Ralph Johnson of the band Earth, Wind & Fire attend the Clive Davis 90th Birthday Celebration at Casa Cipriani on April 6, 2022 in New York City

The band must go on: (LR) Verdine White, Philip Bailey, and Ralph Johnson of the band Earth, Wind & Fire attend the Clive Davis 90th Birthday Celebration at Casa Cipriani on April 6, 2022 in New York City

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