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Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White Dies at 74

He battled Parkinson's disease for years

Megan Vick

Maurice White, founder of the legendary soul band Earth, Wind & Fire died on Thursday after a lengthy battle with Parinkson's disease. He was 74-years old.

"My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep," White's brother Verdine confirmed to the Associated Press. "While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life-changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes."

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White first publicly revealed his Parkinson's diagnosis in 2000 when his band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he had shown signs of the disease as early as the 1980s. He retired from touring with the band in 1995 due to the stress of traveling on his condition.

The horn player founded Earth, Wind & Fire with his brother in 1970. For decades he was the driving force of the band and helped craft their one-of-a-kind soul sound by infusing African music, jazz and other popular styles into their songs. Earth, Wind & Fire - best known for hits like "September" and "Shining Star" -- are also slated to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at this year'sGrammy Awards on Feb. 15.

In addition to Verdine, White is survived by a third brother, Fred, and two adult children.

WATCH: Earth, Wind & Fire discuss Maurice's legacy, their trailblazing fashion and more