Earth, Wind and Fire Saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk Dies at 71

by Jhanaya Belle

April 27, 2022

Photo by: Solomon NJie/GettyImages

Andrew Woolfolk, the iconic saxophonist for the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire who helped define the disco sound of the 1970s, died at the age of 71.

Woolfolk, a part of the band’s most significant successes like “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” died April 25th after a six-year battle with an illness. Details of his cause of death have not yet been released.

Earth, Wind, & Fire’s co-lead singer Philip Bailey shared the news on Instagram with a beautiful tribute.

“I met him in high school, and we quickly became friends and band mates,” Bailey expressed. “We lost him today, after being ill of over six years. He has transitioned on to the forever, from this land of the dying to the land of the living.”

Bailey continued: “Great memories. Great Talent. Funny. Competitive. Quick witted. And always styling. Booski…  I’ll see you on the other side, my friend.”

Andrew Woolfolk was born in Texas on October 11, 1950.

According to the band’s official roster, he joined the band in the early 1970s. The Earth Wind & Fire roster frequently shifted throughout the years, but Woolfolk continued to perform saxophone (along with flute and percussion) with the ensemble on and off until 1993.

Musician Andrew Woolfolk of American multi-genre band Earth, Wind & Fire, US, 3rd February 1978. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

The 71-year-old wasn’t planning on joining the band at the time; as Bailey recounts in his 2014 biography “Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire,” he was studying music in New York when Bailey called and asked him to join the band after the two had played together in Denver.

According to Bailey, Woolfolk became recognized as one of the “original nine.”

The saxophone player would stop the show cold with rip-roaring saxophone solos during concerts. He also recorded with Phil Collins and Bailey for the latter’s solo albums in addition to Earth Wind & Fire records.

Photo by: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Along with the fellow original Earth, Wind & Fire members, Woolfolk was introduced into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Along with his fellow original Earth, Wind & Fire members, Woolfolk was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Woolfolk, the only band member who wore a bright red suit jacket, delivered a triumphant solo on “Shining Star” later that evening.

May Andrew Woolfolk Rest in Power.

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