Earth, Wind & Fire To Stress Healthcare On U.S. Tour

Earth, Wind & Fire will celebrate its 30th anniversary next month with the Cool Blue September tour, due to launch Sept. 1 at the National Car Rental Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Sponsored by ph

Earth, Wind & Fire will celebrate its 30th anniversary next month with the Cool Blue September tour, due to launch Sept. 1 at the National Car Rental Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the trek has dates scheduled through Sept. 30 in Concord, Calif., with more expected. The recently reunited Rufus featuring Chaka Khan will support EWF throughout the tour.

The tour carries with it a healthcare awareness message. Pfizer and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFP) will provide free check-ups for concert-goers at each stop along the tour, as well as for the public in some cities along the way. In addition, a portion of proceeds from sales of tour merchandise will benefit the AAFP Foundation.

"There's no way that we'd be able to do what we do on stage night after night for 30 years if we didn't take good care of ourselves," EWF co-leader Philip Bailey said in a statement. "[Fellow band members] Verdine [White], Ralph [Johnson] and I all turned 50 this year, so maintaining our health is of primary concern. But not enough people out there, especially men, see their doctors for regular checkups. Basically our message to our fans is to please take care of themselves."

The group has also been working on a new, as-yet-untitled album. "The nice thing about this record is having a chance to work with different people," White recently told Billboard. "We started the project originally with Wyclef Jean, who's going to do a couple of tunes, and Eric Benet worked on a couple of songs. We're finishing some things to make it the Earth, Wind & Fire sound."

In other news, a retrospective documentary on the band, "Earth, Wind & Fire: Shining Stars," will be released Aug. 21 on DVD and VHS via Eagle Vision. Along with telling the EWF story, the film features footage of the band working on the new album. "It's really about our life, but in our words," White recently told Billboard. "Over the years, everybody has always explained why they thought Earth, Wind & Fire was great, [but this story is] from Philip, Ralph, [group founder] Maurice [White] and myself [and it features] footage you haven't seen before. It's really a heartfelt thing."

Negotiations are underway to allow a cable television network to broadcast the Kathryn Arnold and Stephanie Bennett-directed film in the near future.

Here are Earth, Wind & Fire's confirmed tour dates:

Sept. 1: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (National Car Rental Center)
Sept. 3: Atlanta (Chastain Park Amphitheatre)
Sept. 5: Nashville (Am-South Amphitheater)
Sept. 7: Washington, D.C. (MCI Center)
Sept. 8: Charlotte, N.C. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre)
Sept. 9: Raleigh, N.C. (Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek)
Sept. 11: Wallingford, Conn. (Oakdale Theatre)
Sept. 14: Philadelphia (First Union Center)
Sept. 15: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach)
Sept. 20: Detroit (Fox Theatre)
Sept. 22: Chicago (Arie Crown Theatre)
Sept. 26: Seattle (Key Arena)
Sept. 28: Mountain View, Calif. (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
Sept. 29: Sacramento, Calif. (Sacramento Valley Amphitheatre)
Sept. 30: Concord, Calif. (Chronicle Pavilion)

Billboard's recent interviews with the members of Earth, Wind & Fire were published in the magazine's recent 30th anniversary salute to the group. The full text of the special section is available in the Members Services section of Billboard.com. To order the issue, click here.