Earth Wind & Fire founding member Maurice White is the latest victim of a Twitter false death announcement. Hip-hop legend Q-Tip, from the group A Tribe Called Quest, gave legs to the rumor and sent the social network into a tizzy.
Q-Tip set off the false alarm when he tweeted his condolences Friday (December 21) morning to his 450K Twitter followers.
“Oh no! 1 of my biggest inspirations MAURICE WHITE leader of earth wind & fire passed on today!,” Q-Tip wrote in a tweet that has since been removed. “A true master! RIP #mauricewhite” Shortly after, “Maurice White” became a trending topic on Twitter.
A few hours later, Earth Wind & Fire’s verified account tweeted “Maurice White is alive and doing well! The rumors across the web are false. Please spread the word.”
Q-Tip soon pointed a finger at another erroneous source he used to support his claim.
“Apparently this wikipedia page [redacted] is false and thankfully he’s alive! which is THE MOST IMPORTANT point here.”
While Q-Tip continued to tweet his relief that White is still living, the good news was not enough for many EWF fans, who didn’t quickly forgive the controversy drummed up by the fake news.
Courtney Manlove (@idetailyourlife) tweeted this:
“#MauriceWhite of @EarthWindFire has not passed! It’s so cruel to the family and friends to say such lies! Please RT to let the world know!”
Jamal Ahmad (@jamalahmad19) was relieved and angered.
“*sigh of relief*Maurice White ain’t dead y’all!! Horrible rumor started by people who don’t listen.”
Along with the faux wiki report that Q-Tip cited, there had been a number of tributes surrounding the EWF tenor’s birthday, which was Wednesday (December 19). At 71, White faces serious health issues that have concerned EWF fans for years.
In 1995, White announced that he would no longer be performing with the groundbreaking jazz-funk-soul fusion band. While he had already been diagnosed with Parkinsons at the time, he kept his condition under wraps until 2000 when he announced his health condition to the world.
“I just got tired of not talking about it,” White said. “I had pretty much disappeared from the scene; a lot of people had not seen me in a long time, and they started wondering what was happening.”
Parkinson’s affects the nervous system and becomes more debilitating over time. Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox are other high profile names who have been afflicted with the disease. Most recognizable by the tremors the it causes, according to the Mayo Clinic, it also causes slow movement and stiffness.
Later in the day, Q-Tip, he summed up the entire matter with a tweet that both sides can agree on: “Glad that Mo is still here.”
--Erik Parker, CBS Local