Earth, Wind & Fire saxophone player Andrew Woolfolk passed away on Sunday, according to the band's singer Philip Bailey. Bailey announced on Instagram that Woolfolk had died after a 6-year-long battle with an unnamed illness. Woolfolk was 71 years old.
"I met him in High School, and we quickly became friends and band mates," Bailey wrote. "Andrew Paul Woolfolk was his name. We lost him today, after being ill of over 6 years. He has Transitioned on to the forever, from this Land of the dying to the Land of the Living. Great memories. Great talent. Funny. Competitive. Quick witted. And always styling. Booski... I'll see you on the other side, my friend."
The post picked up nearly 4,000 likes from fans and plenty of comments as well. Fans shared their condolences for Bailey and the others that Woolfolk left behind, as well as their fond memories of Woolfolk.
"I'm so sorry to hear this. What a major part of the EWF legacy," wrote jazz musician Christian McBride. Another follower added: "Oh no! Prayers going up for his family and friends," while a third wrote: "Rest In Peace Andrew. Sorry for your lost. Sorry for Our lost. What a musician."
Woolfolk joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1973 – four years after the eclectic band's founding. He was included in the band's lineup when it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Woolfolk also played with musicians including Deniece Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Phil Collins, Twennynine, Level 42 and Bailey's solo act.
Woolfolk graduated high school in Denver, Colorado and was apparently a Denver native. He was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2017. He was generally a private person, bu Bailey shared some details about him in his memoir Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire. He referred to Woolfolk as one of the "original nine" since the lineup of the band changed so often.
According to Bailey, Woolfolk was a "jolly prankster" on tour. For example, he wrote that his friend "might fill your hotel room trash can with hot water and balance it atop your bedroom door, just waiting for you to return late at night." He also reminded fans that in their decades of touring, Woolfolk's saxophone solos were one of the guaranteed showstoppers most nights.
Few details on Woolfolk's personal life are widely known. So far, no plans for a public memorial have been announced. Fans everywhere are mourning and sharing tributes on social media.