EARTH, WIND AND FIRE SCORE FIRST R&B HIT ALBUM WITH “OPEN OUR EYES”
Earth Wind & Fire scored their first #1 album today (May 25, 1974) with the release of Open Our Eyes, powered by the hit singles “Mighty Mighty” and “Kalimba “Story.”
“Mighty Mighty” was the group’s first Top 10 R&B single, while Open Our Eyes was Earth Wind & Fire’s first platinum album.
Other songs on the release included “Devotion,” as well as the classic hit song “Kalimba Story.”
Incredibly, Open Our Eyes was Earth Wind & Fire’s fifth studio album by the time it was released in 1974 for Columbia Records.
The history of Earth Wind & Fire began with group member Maurice White, who was already a veteran on the Chicago Soul music scene prior to forming the group.
White was a session drummer for Chess Records, where he backed up artists like Etta James, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Willie Dixon and Ramsey Lewis, whose trio he joined in 1967 until 1970.
“Ramsey helped shape my musical vision beyond just the music,” Maurice White explained. “I learned about performance and staging,” White recalled, revealing that he also learned to play the African thumb piano or Kalimba, which would be a prominent instrument in most of Earth Wind & Fire’s later works.
A move to the Midwest in early 1969 lead to the formation of the group the “Salty Peppers.”
Shortly after relocating to Los Angeles, Maurice White changed the name of the band to Earth Wind & Fire and released two albums with Warner Bros.
In 1972, the lineup was dissolved and rebuilt with Philip Bailey on vocals.
In 1973, the group released its first gold album Head to the Sky, which was followed by their first platinum release, Open Our Eyes.
“I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before,” Maurice White said. “Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music…which somehow ended up becoming pop. We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners’ spiritual content.”