Produced on May 8, 1951, in Denver, Colorado, vocalist Philip Bailey became a star as an associate of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. His falsetto was heard on such an group’s tunes as well as on other gospel and pop endeavors, including the hit song “Easy Lover.” A seven-time Grammy Award winner, Bailey continues to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
As a young vocalist, he worked with an R&B band called Friends & Love. After hearing Bailey perform in Denver, Maurice White encouraged him to join Earth, Wind & Fire in 1972.
These diverse combinations given ballads, rock songs as well as other melodies. Their tunes regularly showcased the pairing of Bailey’s falsetto—his vocal range crossed four octaves—with White’s tenor.
With its new music, the group started 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 records followed.
Vocalist Bailey was a frontman through the group’s stunning concerts (some of which featured magic impressions organized by Doug Henning and David Copperfield). As a part of Earth, Wind & Fire, Bailey won six Grammy Awards between 1976 and 1983.
In 1983, Earth, Wind & Fire made a decision to take a rest. During his time from the band, Bailey—who’d began to work on solo projects prior to the group’s hiatus—collaborated with Phil Collins on Chinese Wall (1984). A duet with that record, “Easy Lover,” was a tremendous hit, reaching No. 2 on the pop charts.
That record was well-received, but sales of their later records failed to get to the group’s preceding peaks. In the 1990s, White decided to avoid performing (due to his being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease). Bailey later took the lead in the group, and Earth, Wind & Fire began to be a favorite draw on tour once more.
Now, though he still has outside jobs—including the music movie Love Is Real—Bailey stays an essential part of Earth, Wind & Fire.
Combined with the remaining group, Bailey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Ten years after, he became an associate of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.