Andrew Woolfolk, longtime Earth, Wind & Fire saxophonist and prolific session musician, died on April 24 at the age of 71 following an illness that persisted for “over six years,” according to EWF singer Philip Bailey.
“I met him in high school, and we quickly became friends and bandmates,” Bailey wrote in an Instagram post commemorating his late bandmate. “Andrew Paul Woolfolk was his name. We lost him today, after being ill [for] over six years. He has transitioned on to the forever, from this land of the dying to the land of the living.
“Great memories. Great Talent. Funny. Competitive. Quick-witted. And always styling,” Bailey continued. “Booski … I’ll see you on the other side, my friend.”
You can see the post below.
Born on Oct. 11, 1950, in Texas, Woolfolk moved to Colorado as a child and attended high school in Denver. He met Bailey in the Centennial State and joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1973. Woolfolk’s first album with EWF, 1973’s Head to the Sky, also became their first platinum LP.
The R&B and funk titans racked up several more platinum and multiplatinum albums throughout the ’70s, peaking with 1975’s chart-topping, triple-platinum That’s the Way of the World, which spawned the No. 1 hit “Shining Star.” Woolfolk’s talents can also be heard on smash hits such as “September,” “Sing a Song” and EWF’s cover of the Beatles‘ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
Woolfolk also worked with other artists at the height of EWF’s success, playing saxophone on Valerie Carter’s Just a Stone’s Throw Away and Deniece Williams’ Song Bird, both in 1977. When EWF went on hiatus following 1983’s Electric Universe, Woolfolk played on two of Bailey’s solo gospel albums, 1984’s Grammy-nominated The Wonders of His Love and 1986’s Grammy-winning Triumph.
Woolfolk continued to play with EWF when the band reconvened in 1987 and stayed with them through 1993. He continued working with other high-profile musicians after his departure, playing on several tracks on Phil Collins‘ 1996 album Dance Into the Light. Woolfolk’s achievements were memorialized when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted Earth, Wind & Fire in 2000.
Top 25 Soul Albums of the ’70s
There’s more to the decade than Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, but those legends are well represented.