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Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire Hardcover – April 15, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bailey is the lead singer of the dynamic, wildly eclectic, and deeply influential R&B/soul/funk/gospel group Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF). He begins his memoir with a description of founder Maurice White’s “Concept” of how the group would “raise people to a higher level of consciousness.” White also wanted to make sure the band stood out from the rest—hence, their flamboyant clothing and unique stage presence. Bailey tells his own story, beginning with his Denver childhood, when he knew at age 6 that he wanted to be a musician, and continuing on to how he came to join the second incarnation of EWF as a 21-year-old singer-percussionist. He discusses his complicated relationship with women, the 1970s “station wagon tours,” the ups and downs of a professional band that is still active, and White’s health issues (he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992). He name-drops, too, although not to excess: a Patti LaBelle here, a Sly and the Family Stone there. A fun read overall, especially for the many EWF fans still out there. --June Sawyers

Review

"An energetic memoir about a complex individual and his music."
~Kirkus Reviews
 

"Fans of Bailey’s music will find him a warm and occasionally very funny guide through the elements of this American band that Rolling Stone declared “changed the sound of black pop."

~Publishers Weekly

 
"[Shining Star] is a memoir of a man, a band, and a vision.... What may impress the most is Bailey’s honesty in relating conflicts that eventually tore the band apart, as well as his own shortcomings."

"If you’ve ever been a fan of Earth, Wind and Fire (and who hasn’t?), buy this book!"

~Ebony
 

"Ninety million records sold. Eight Grammy awards. Lot of platinum and gold records. And lead singer Bailey’s leaping multi-octave range. The numbers speak for themselves, but Bailey has more to say in this memoir, which ranges from Earth, Wind, & Fire’s early years to founder Maurice White’s disbanding the group in 1983 to Bailey’s solo career (which gave us “Easy Lover”) to the group’s reuniting and eventual ascension to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

~Library Journal

A fun read overall, especially for the many EWF fans still out there.
~Booklist


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670785881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670785889
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John L. Hughes, Jr. on April 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An autobiography less than 250 pages seems skimpy, especially for someone who has been in the music business for over forty years. However, Philip Bailey packs SHINING STAR with so many interesting stories about himself, Maurice White and Earth, Wind & Fire without being long-winded. Like a good commercial song, the veteran singer/songwriter uses the "don't bore us, get to the chorus" approach in sharing his life on paper. As a result, SHINING STAR is a very entertaining read that reveals facts that would startle even a seasoned EWF fan. Bailey honestly writes about his complicated relationship with women and Maurice without resorting to melodrama. Die hard EWF fans will drool over Bailey's recollections on recording some of the group's best-known albums and songs as well as the financial challenges of a group trying to stay on top.

The best part about this autobiography is that Bailey tells an intriguing story without sensationalism, unnecessary name-dropping or cursing. A great read for anybody who is interested in one of the best R&B bands ever.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since I'm huge fan of EWF I was very exited about the book, and not disappointed after reading. Mr.Bailey is outstanding talent in genre, a lot of very personal info, very emotionally and easy reading. Thanks to all authors, I love it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thanks for writing your biography Philip!

I am a long time fan and amateur singer who dreams about singing soprano as well as Philip Bailey some day!

I always knew that you guys were different, and reading about the "concept" helped me to understand the spiritual side to Earth, Wind, and Fire.

May the future bring nothing but good to you and yours...

Jenny Hatch
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book so I could read during my commute back and forth to/from the office. I have to say, I was quite surprised (pleasantly so) of how transparent Mr. Bailey is here. As one of the millions of EWF fans, I wondered about the inspiration and the backstory of the groups successes musically. I grew up in the early 1970s Washington DC area listening to them. I have such fond memories of the first time listening to Shining Star and the fact that my oldest brother introduced me to their music! Those good memories include seeing them at the Capital Center in Maryland. My husband regularly plays a CD in our car. Last year, we went to Atlantic City and saw them at the Borgata and even saw Mr. Bailey (in cognito) chillin' outside the hotel a few hours prior to the concert. Most of all, my husband and I are Christians and we share the same faith as Mr. Bailey. Reading about his conversion was so very powerful and I hope he knows that! The book is a testimony of sorts, which is done so tastefully and with a lot of respect for the current, and former band members, especially, Maurice. I now have the book in my family room on the coffee table for others to enjoy as well!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
of a group that produced so many hits and an explosion of sound, i listened to their greatest hits night after night. Bailey gives us a fairly antiseptic rendering of that experience, with expressions of exuberance reserved for his wife's "booty ass." It's more of a family story than anything else, the brothers White, Maurice taciturn and creative, Verdine full speed, even while driving. I liked the story of seeing Genesis in concert then ending up doing Easy Lover with the same Phil Collins, as luck would have it, a fan of what is constantly referred to in this book as "EWF." It's a long and winding road but ultimately it was hard to put this book down. His falsetto brought him into the group and kept him there all these years. Glad he wrote the book. I'm fairly sure he's much happier now than if he had stayed in Denver but if he's not, it's not for lack of trying.
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By Rev Drake on September 11, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is great. Earth Wind & Fire is a group that I have admired since I was about 9 years old, sneaking and listening to my older brothers records and it sure was nice to see how things really went back in those days.

Thank you Phillip Bailey for writing this book. It answered a lot of questions I had always wondered about. "Wanna Thank You, Yeah......."
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Format: Kindle Edition
This rating is based on the fact that this book was excellent. Earth, Wind, and Fire is my favorite band of all time. Reading this revealing, honest thoughtful account by Philip Bailey was a pleasure. Philip Bailey grew up in Denver, Colorado in the same neighborhood as me. Reading about familiar places that I remember and knowing that they were part of his past as well was an added plus.
This book served also to fill in the cracks of in the information I knew about my favorite band. As bands go EWF was always a little more private and mysterious so Philip Bailey tells some of the stories that a loyal fan wishes to know and shares some spiritual views as well. Awesome read!
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Format: Hardcover
RIP Charles Stepney, Don Myrick, Roland Baustista, and Maurice White. EWF was my favorite group while I was in high school (I am now 52 y/old), I have their albums on vinyl. I saw them at two sold-out concerts at the Stadium in Chicago. I love music and I have read several biographies/autobiographies of different recording artists. I was excited to learn of Phillip Bailey's memoir. This is a good book. It is well-written and I could not put it down. It really goes behind-the-scenes, not just on the surface. Most bios I have read of recording artists do not go into, or barely scratch the business-end. The book gives insight into the business side of things. It also delves into the creative side. Mr. Bailey gives details about the the production of some of the classic hits, and why these songs are so great. If you are really into music, you would appreciate that. The book also goes into detail about the involvement of other recording industry figures in the EWF story. Mr. Bailey is also candid about personal and professional embarrassments and set-backs. He writes of his infidelities and failed marriages. He writes of record label broken promises and getting dropped by labels (as a solo artist and with EWF). He writes of the time EWF was up-staged by Parliament. He shares the story behind "Reasons." The band held Charles Stepney in such high regard. It is very respectful the way Mr. Bailey recalls Mr. Stepney. I would recommend this book to a EWF and music fan.
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