Sheldon Reynolds, guitarist with stints in The Commodores and Earth, Wind & Fire, dies at 63
Sheldon Reynolds, the guitar virtuoso and singer who had stints in The Commodores and Earth, Wind & Fire, has passed away at age 63
- Reynolds joined The Commodores in 1983 and Earth, Wind & Fire in 1987
- Prior to that, he toured with Millie Jackson and recorded three albums with Sun
- Reynolds started out as a guitar prodigy in the early 1970s
Sheldon Reynolds, the talented guitarist who was a key member of the funk and soul bands The Commodores and Earth, Wind & Fire, has passed away at the age of 63.
Reynolds’ death was announced on social media on Tuesday by Philip Bailey, his former bandmate in Earth, Wind & Fire.
“This news of Sheldon Reynolds’ transition is very sad for all of us who knew and worked with him. Sheldon had Reese down vocally,” he wrote, referring to founder and vocalist Maurice White. Sheldon was an excellent addition to the band, a great writer and producer, and a kind, loving person. He will be missed. Our condolences to his family.”
Reynolds made a name for himself as a technically proficient guitarist with the band Sun, before joining later incarnations of classic funk bands.
His cause of death has not yet been announced.
Musical legend: Sheldon Reynolds, the singer and virtuoso guitarist of later lineups of The Commodores and Earth, Wind & Fire, has passed away at the age of 63; seen in March 2022 in Laguna Hills, California.
Saying goodbye: Reynolds’ death was announced on social media on Tuesday by Philip Bailey, his former bandmate in Earth, Wind & Fire
His guitar talents were what first caught his eye, and he was a virtuoso before he was even a teenager.
After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Reynolds went into music performance full-time.
One of his first gigs was as a touring guitarist for R&B singer Millie Jackson, before joining the funk and soul group Sun.
After The Commodores co-founder and co-lead vocalist Lionel Richie left the group at the height of its success in 1982 to pursue his lucrative solo career and lead guitarist Thomas McClary left, Reynolds brought his guitar talents to the funk and pop band.
Although Reynolds also performed as vocalist, original co-lead Walter Orange – who sang lead vocals on hits such as Brick House – took over most of the vocal duties after Richie’s departure.
He only played with The Commodores from 1983 to 1987, when he joined another iconic funk and pop band, Earth, Wind & Fire.
The group had been on hiatus since 1984, but Maurice White reformed it in ’87 with new members including Reynolds on lead guitar and vocal duties.
He had previously played guitar on White’s 1985 self-titled solo album, clearly fitting in with the group when it was revived.
Moving on: After co-lead singer Lionel Richie and lead guitarist Thomas McClary left The Commodores in 1982 and ’83, Reynolds joined the group until 1987; seen in 1999 on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Change of pace: In ’87 he joined another iconic funk band, Earth, Wind & Fire. The group had been on hiatus since 1984, but vocalist Maurice White (center) reformed it in ’87 with new members including Reynolds (L) on lead guitar and vocals; seen with Philip Bailey (R) in 1990
He continued to record and perform with the band until 2002.
Reynolds’ stint with the group earned him a 1994 Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for Sunday Morning, the second single from Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1993 album Millennium.
As a member of the group, Reynolds was honored with induction into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.
He also had co-lead singer Philip Bailey’s 1989 solo album Family Affair and he would go on to contribute to Smokey Robinson’s 1990 album Love, Smokey.