Larry Dunn

From 1972 to 1983, Larry Dunn was the keyboardist for Earth, Wind & Fire. He also helped write some of the band’s songs, including the No. 1 hit “Shining Star.”


Larry Dunn was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1953. In 1972 he became the keyboardist for Earth, Wind & Fire. He was an important part of the group's success in the 1970s and early '80s, and won six Grammy Awards. In 1987, after a four-year break, Earth, Wind & Fire re-formed, but Dunn had moved on to other projects. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Early Life and Career

Larry Dunn was born Lawrence Dunhill on June 19, 1953, in Denver, Colorado. He grew up loving music and began playing keyboards in a band when he was a teenager. After the group split up, his former bandmate, singer Philip Bailey, moved to Los Angeles and joined Earth, Wind & Fire. When that band needed a keyboardist, Bailey recommended Dunn, who moved to Los Angeles and became a member in 1972.

Earth, Wind & Fire

Along with keyboards, Dunn played organ, piano and synthesizer for Earth, Wind & Fire, and for several years acted as musical director. The group began to take off after releasing Head to the Sky in 1973, scoring solid hits with the title track and "Evil."

Their next album, 1975's That's the Way of the World, was their breakthrough, and is also among Dunn's favorites because its success, he says, made him realize how popular the group had become. The album produced the No. 1 hit "Shining Star," which Dunn contributed to as a songwriter.

During Earth, Wind & Fire's heyday, which ran into the early '80s, they released a steady series of gold and multi-platinum albums, including Gratitude (1975), Spirit (1976) and I Am (1979). By the time the group decided to take a break in 1983, Dunn, along with his bandmates, had won six Grammy Awards. He had also produced and composed music for numerous side projects during this time.

Later Career

Earth, Wind & Fire re-formed in 1987, but Dunn did not rejoin the band. He continued to write and produce his own music, mostly for Japanese television commercials and films. In 1992, he put out his first solo album, Lover's Silhouette (initially released in Japan, it became available in the United States a few years later). Former Earth, Wind & Fire bandmates Al McKay and Ralph Johnson were guest performers on the album.

Dunn did take part in a 2011 concert that celebrated Earth, Wind & Fire's 40th anniversary. He also contributed to the group's 2013 release, Now, Then & Forever. 

As a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, Dunn was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2011 he released another solo album, N2 the Journey, on his Source Music Productions label.

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