The Pharaohs

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The Pharaohs
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresJazz, Soul, Funk
Years active1962–1973
LabelsUbiquity Records (current label)
Associated actsThe Jazzmen, Phenix Horns, Earth, Wind & Fire
Past membersCharles Handy
Louis Satterfield
Don Myrick
Maurice White
Fred Humphrey
Ernest McCarthy
‘Big' Willie Woods
Oye Bisi
Shango Njoko Adefumi
Black Herman Waterford
Yehudah Ben Israel
Alious Watkins
Derf Reklaw Raheem
Aaron Dodd
Derrick Morris
Warren Bingham
Rahm Lee
Richard A. Peterson

The Pharaohs, an American soul/jazz/funk group, were formed in 1962 out of a student band, The Jazzmen, at Crane Junior College in Chicago, Illinois. This early incarnation comprised Louis Satterfield on trombone, Charles Handy on trumpet, and Don Myrick on alto saxophone. They were joined by Fred Humphrey on piano, Ernest McCarthy on bass guitar and Maurice White on drums. Satterfield, White, and Handy were studio musicians at Chess Records in Chicago.

Affro Arts Theater[edit]

On the South Side of Chicago the Affro Arts Theater offered concerts, as well as classes in music and dance. As the name suggests the theater represented the strong African-American nature of the area and the times. It was here that the Jazzmen merged with the Artistic Heritage Ensemble to form The Pharaohs.


In 1971 the band recorded The Awakening, and in 1972 In the Basement. With cuts like "The Pharaohs Love Y'all" and "In the Basement", these albums established The Pharaohs as a force, if only on the cult level, for several years. Many of the Afro-Sheen commercials from this period featured music of the Pharaohs.

By the early 1970s, Maurice White had had some success with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and recorded a demo with several Chicago musicians. After signing with Warner Bros. Records he assembled the band which was to become Earth, Wind & Fire.

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