As the leader and singer of earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White created what is perhaps the world’s greatest recipe for five minutes of sustained joy. It’s called “Boogie Wonderland,” and if it does not set your limbs in motion when it comes on the radio or over the speakers at a wedding dance, you may need to check your DNA for traces of humanity. White pioneered a sound that was perfectly in sync with the disco era of the late ’70s: razor-sharp horns playing jazzy harmonies, James Brown–style funk guitar, popping bass, soaring background vocals and the insistent drive of high-hat cymbals. For his band and a host of other artists, he crafted smash hits–“September,” “After the Love Has Gone” and “Best of My Love”–that kept dance floors packed. Having suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years, White, 74, died at home in Los Angeles on Feb. 4. His groove, however, lives on.
This appears in the February 22, 2016 issue of TIME.