Serpentine Fire

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"Serpentine Fire"
Serpentine Fire.jpg
Single by Earth, Wind & Fire
from the album All 'N All
B-side "Serpentine Fire (Instrumental)"
Released October 15, 1977
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1977
Genre R&B, Funk, disco
Length 3:50
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Maurice White, Verdine White, Reginald Sonny Burke
Producer(s) Maurice White
Earth, Wind & Fire singles chronology
"On Your Face"
(1977)
"Serpentine Fire"
(1977)
"Fantasy"
(1978)
"On Your Face"
(1977)
"Serpentine Fire"
(1977)
"Fantasy"
(1978)

"Serpentine Fire" is a song by Earth, Wind & Fire which was ranked by Billboard magazine as the #1 R&B single for the year 1978.

Released October 15 1977 as the lead single from the album All 'N All, "Serpentine Fire" spent seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart from December 3 1977. The single also crossed over to the Pop-oriented Billboard Hot 100 charts with a #13 peak.[1][2][3]

A music video was prepped to promote "Serpentine Fire" featuring the band performing in a supposed pyramid.[4]

The song was written by founding band members Maurice White and Verdine White in collaboration with Reginald "Sonny" Burke. Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey later commented on the "serpentine fire" metaphor: "Maurice [White] at that point in time in our career was studying a lot of metaphysics and a lot of Eastern philosophy, and the 'Serpentine Fire' – I’m not an expert on that whole thing, because I had to ask him myself [to explain] – but it's actually the sex drive – or sexual impulse".[5] Although Maurice White was evidently responsible for the song's title, Earth, Wind & Fire keyboardist/musical director Larry Dunn credits the song's "basic premise" to Sonny Burke[6] a veteran arranger and keyboardist featured on many R&B recordings although his only credited connection with Earth, Wind & Fire is as the co-writer of "Serpentine Fire".

Instrumental versions of "Serpentine Fire" have been recorded by Jimmy Smith (album Unfinished Business/ 1978) and by Tom Scott (album Them Changes/ 1990). Bassist Nathan East released a version featuring Earth, Wind & Fire members Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson in 2016.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1977-1978) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 13
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Songs 1

Accolades[edit]

The information regarding accolades attributed to "Serpentine Fire" is adapted from Acclaimed Music.[7]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Dave Marsh U.S. The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made 1989 307
Bruce Pollock U.S. The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 2005 *
pc muñoz U.S. Verse-Chorus-Verse: A Column Dedicated to Great Songs 2005 *

(*) designates lists that are unordered.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1978-02-11). "Billboard". 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 179. 
  4. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire - Serpentine Fire". YouTube. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  6. ^ "'That Groove Was Undeniable': Making Earth, Wind & Fire's 'All 'N All'". The Atlantic. 2012-11-21. doi:10.1038/ncomms13155. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  7. ^ "Serpentine Fire". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"(Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again" by L.T.D.
Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single
November 19 - December 31, 1977
Succeeded by
"Ffun" by Con Funk Shun