Born on May
8, 1951, in Denver, Colorado, singer Philip Bailey became a star as a member of
the band Earth, Wind & Fire
falsetto has been heard on that group’s songs and on other gospel and pop
projects, including the hit song “Easy Lover.” A seven-time Grammy Award
winner, Bailey has been
inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall
and the Songwriters Hall of
Bailey was born on May 8, 1951, in Denver, Colorado. As a young singer, he
worked with an R&B band called Friends
& Love. After hearing Bailey perform in Denver, Maurice White invited
him to join Earth, Wind & Fire in
Wind & Fire, Bailey and White - along with other bandmates like Larry Dunn,
Verdine White and Al McKay - combined musical styles such as jazz, funk and
pop. These eclectic mixes yielded ballads, rock songs and other tunes. Their
songs often showcased the pairing of Bailey’s falsetto - his vocal range
spanned four octaves - with White’s tenor.
With its new
music, the band began to reach new audiences with their 1973 album Head to the Sky. Open Our Eyes (1974) was even more successful. Throughout the 1970s
and early ‘80s, more gold and platinum albums followed.
Bailey was a frontman during the group’s spectacular concerts (some of which
featured magical effects coordinated by Doug Henning and David Copperfield). He
also had a hand in the songwriting process itself: he was a co-creator of popular songs like “Reasons,”
“Shining Star” and “I’ll Write a Song for You.” As a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, Bailey won six Grammy Awards between 1976 and 1983.
In 1983, Earth, Wind & Fire decided to take a
break. During his time away from the band, Bailey - who had started to work on
solo projects prior to the group’s hiatus - collaborated with Phil Collins on Chinese Wall (1984). A duet from that
album, “Easy Lover,” was a huge hit, reaching Number Two on the pop charts.
Bailey also worked on Christian music, and received his seventh Grammy for 1986’s Triumph, a gospel album.
In 1987, Earth, Wind & Fire reunited and
released Touch the World. That album
was well-received, but sales of their later albums did not reach the group’s
previous heights. In the 1990s, White decided to stop performing (due to his
being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease). Bailey subsequently took the lead in
the group, and Earth, Wind & Fire
started to become a popular draw on tour once more.
he still has outside projects - including the music film Love is Real - Bailey remains an integral part of Earth, Wind & Fire. Along with Dunn,
Verdine White and McKay, Bailey is joined onstage by his son, vocalist Philip Doron
Bailey, who also works as a songwriter and producer for the group.