Sheldon Reynolds, Guitarist with Earth, Wind & Fire and The Commodores Dies at 63

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 22: Sheldon Reynolds of Earth, Wind and Fire performs on sta
Christie Goodwin/Getty

American guitarist, singer and songwriter Sheldon Reynolds, who made his name in the 1970s and 80s with a host of chart-topping bands that helped define the era, has died. He was 63.

Reynolds’ death was announced Wednesday by his former Earth, Wind & Fire band mate Philip Bailey. Reynolds joined the popular outfit in 1987 and remained with them on tour and in the studio until 2002.

During his period they earned a Grammy Award nomination for the song “Sunday Morning” in 1994 and as a member he was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.

“This news of Sheldon Reynolds transition is very sad for all of us who knew and worked with him,” Bailey wrote on Facebook, praising his fellow Ohio local  while including a photo of the band’s greatest hits sheet music book.

File/Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on 27 May 1997 with Verdine White (bass, left), Sheldon Reynolds (centre) & Philip Bailey (vocals, right). (Howard Denner/Avalon/Getty Images)

“Sheldon vocally had Reese down. That’s what Maurice said when he hired Sheldon to share vocals and play guitar,” Bailey wrote of Maurice White, the founder and frontman of Earth, Wine & Fire.

“Sheldon was an excellent addition to the band, a great writer and producer, and a genuinely kind and loving person,” Bailey continued. “He will be missed. Our condolences to his family. Rest in peace.”

This news of Sheldon Reynolds transition is very sad for all of us who knew and worked with him. Sheldon vocally had…

Posted by Philip Bailey on Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Earth, Wind & Fire began in 1970 under the leadership of Maurice White, who created a band that could combine elements of jazz, funk, R&B, soul, dance, pop and rock, and celebrated African musicianship and spiritualism, Fox News reports.

They went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Other achievements include performing during the 2005 Super Bowl halftime show.

Reynolds’ music career began with an opening act slot on tour with R&B artist Millie Jackson in the 1970s.

He then became part of disco and funk band Sun for a brief period before becoming a member of The Commodores in 1983.

File/THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO /Musical guest Sheldon Reynolds of “Earth, Wind & Fire” performing on August 03, 1999 — (Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images) 

File/(L to R) — Sheldon Reynolds, Kate Linder, Hawthorne James and Trae Ireland attend the Eric Zuley And Dr. Dante Sears eZWay Family Birthday Celebration on March 19, 2022 in Laguna Hills, California. (Amy Graves/Getty Images for eZWay Network)

Their 1977 hits “Easy” and “Brickhouse” had propelled the Tuskegee University band into a nationwide phenomenon.

Reynolds stayed with the funk and soul band — for whom Lionel Richie was a frontman and original member before his departure in 1982 — for four years, earning his first-ever Grammy award for the band’s “Nightshift,” which won best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals in 1985.

He then made his move to Earth, Wind & Fire which propelled him to even greater fame. Maurice White, Smokey Robinson and the band Chicago also benefited from his skills.

Reynolds was at one time married to Janie Hendrix, the adopted sister of Jimi Hendrix.

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.