Earth, Wind & Fire got their name from drummer and founding member Maurice White's astrological sign. White's sign is Sagittarius, which has the primary elemental quality of Fire and the seasonal qualities of Earth and Air. "Earth, Air & Fire" didn't sound right, so "Air" became "Wind." White was previously in a band signed to Capitol Records called Salty Peppers; Maurice developed an interest in astrology and Egyptology while he was touring the world with them.
In 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire scored the soundtrack to a film about the dark side of the music industry called That's The Way of the World. EWF also appeared in the film as a band called "The Group." When Harvey Keitel's character sees "The Group" live, he produces their first album. The movie was a bomb but EWF's soundtrack was a huge hit, spending three weeks at #1.
In 1995, Earth, Wind & Fire received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Several of the band's original members attended the unveiling ceremony. Later that year, drummer and founding member Maurice White announced that he would no longer be touring with the rest of the band, leaving Philip Bailey to handle most of the vocal duties at concerts.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Earth, Wind & Fire held a benefit concert in Virginia to raise money for the American Red Cross. The show raised $25,000 for the charity. The band also performed at the closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2004, Earth, Wind & Fire performed as part of a tribute to funk music at the 46th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The band was joined onstage by Parliament Funkadelic, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and OutKast, who incorporated their hit "The Way You Move" into the mash-up.
President Barack Obama is a fan of Earth, Wind & Fire. In 2009, the group became one of the first musical acts to play at the White House since Obama took office in late 2008. The band played at the Governors' Dinner.
Sometimes bands find inspiration in unlikely places. The Swedish metal band Meshuggah has stated that Earth, Wind & Fire was the source of inspiration behind their 1995 album Destroy Erase Improve.
Tragedy struck the Earth, Wind & Fire family in 1993 when original saxophonist Don Myrick was fatally shot by a police officer. When attempting to serve a search warrant, the officer mistook a butane lighter in Myrick's hand for a weapon. Myrick was shot once in the chest and later died in hospital. In 1995, Myrick's family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles for $400,000.