Elements of the Universe: Verdine White’s Bass Line That Started a Dynasty

In this episode, we’re talking about Earth, Wind & Fire, and their legendary bassist, Verdine White.

I break down the bass line that made them a household name (1975’s “Shining Star”) and use three of my favorite EWF bass lines to demonstrate the three stylistic elements that make Verdine’s playing so iconic.


Paul Thompson has been playing bass professionally for over 30 years, including recording and touring stints with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Recent playing credits include Bob Reynolds, John Pizzarelli, Jeff 'Tain' Watts, and Bob James, among others. Currently, he can be seen playing in and around the Pittsburgh, PA area with the THOTH Trio, the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and many other musicians in the city's rich Jazz community. An educator of over 25 years, Paul currently teaches Jazz Bass at Duquesne University, West Virginia University, and his alma mater, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 Performing Arts School.

Connect with Paul on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and his website.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Kitty Powell

    Just saw them in concert !!! All true in this article. Love him

    • Michelle

      Seeing EWF & Lionel Richie at the Fabulous Forum on Friday, September 15th!! Cannot wait!!

  2. Douglas Jackson Jr

    To me, And I don’t say this mildly. He is absolutely the baddest Bass Player that ever lived ? And Yes I seen them more than a few times. Yeah I just told my age. Some say Larry Graham., And I love Larry. But Verdine is from some other planet. Especially back in the day. Yes over 40 years ago. If you went to an Earth Wind and Fire ? concert back in the day. It magnetized your life for a year. Until they came back to your City. Yes. The most powerful Funk R and B band ever period. And even though the Isley’s were my favorites. EWF. Was indeed the Tops ?

    • Nyron Bailey

      1976,1977,1978,All at the Garden NYC,and 2023 new year Atlantic City with my wife it was her first time,and got all their Albums originals not cd’s that Bass line is sick and I try to play bass in my mancave.lol

  3. Benedict Malone

    Man, that was insightful! Truly enjoyed this Paul!

  4. That was great. So insightful.