*On July 30, 2003, longtime Earth Wind and Fire saxophone player Don Myrick was shot and killed by a Santa Monica police officer who mistook a lighter he was holding for a weapon and fired a shot into his chest.
Myrick, along with Louis “Lui Lui” Satterfield on trombone and both Rhmlee Michael Davis and Michael Harris on trumpet, made up the EWF Horns, who were later renamed The Phenix Horns. In addition to brassing up The Elements, the quartet also hired out their services for The Chi-Lites, Ramsey Lewis, Deniece Williams, The Emotions and most prominently to Phil Collins and his band Genesis.
Myrick, Satterfield and Davis also predate EWF as The Pharoahs, who released two albums in the early 1970s: “The Awakening” in 1971 and a live album “In the Basement” in 1972.
Myrick was just 53-years-old when a narcotics investigation brought a cop to his door 17 years ago, and he answered the knock with a butane lighter in his hand. In his memory, we’re putting a name to some of his most famous work. Perhaps you’ll recognize some of these!
On alto sax with The Phenix Horns all throughout “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” by The Emotions.
That sax solo in “After the Love Has Gone” (At the 3:26 mark)
That sax solo in “Sun Goddess” by Ramsey Lewis feat. EWF (At the 2:27 mark)
That sax solo in Anita Baker’s “You Bring Me Joy” (At the 2:32 mark)
That horn section in Donny Hathaway’s “Everything is Everything”
Below, watch Myrick with The Phenix Horns all throughout Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.”
That sax solo in Collins’ hit single “One More Night.” Myrick appears in this music video, too, at the 4:04 mark.
That sax solo in the live version of “Reasons” (At the 2:19 mark)
The Los Angeles Times reported of Myrick’s 1993 funeral:
As his body lay in a casket beneath floral arrangements decorated with black quarter notes and a white dove, mourners spoke of the pure tone and quick musical ear, the generosity and gentleness of the man who was known as Hippmo. The nickname goes back to childhood days, said Louis Satterfield, a bassist and trombonist who was Myrick’s musical partner from college years until the end. Overweight as a child, the youngster was called “Hippmo-potamus,” but as Myrick matured into a master of blues, jazz and pop music, the name came to mean that he was “mo’ hip,” Satterfield said.
Myrick’s friends who attended his funeral were still at a loss over his death and questioned the officer’s action.
“To be shot down like a common criminal, it’s ridiculous,” said Larry Dunn, the former keyboard player and musical director for Earth, Wind & Fire. “Most of the people here are still in shock.”