Weather Report Biography
Founded by Joe Zawinul (Josef Erich Zawinul, 7 July 1932, Landstraße, Vienna, Austria, d. 11 September 2007, Vienna, Austria; keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (b. 25 August 1933, Newark, New Jersey, USA; reeds). The highly accomplished Weather Report was one of the groups credited with inventing jazz rock fusion music in the early 70s. The two founders had worked together as members of Miles Davis band in 1969-71, playing on Bitches Brew. The first line-up of Weather Report included Airto Moreira (percussion), Miroslav Vitous (bass), and Alphonse Mouzon (drums/percussion). Signing to CBS Records, the groups self-titled debut album included compositions by Shorter, Vitous and Zawinul. The bestselling I Sing The Body Electric featured new percussionists Eric Gravatt and Dom Um Romão. Among the tracks was Zawinuls ambitious anti-war song Unknown Soldier.
During the mid-70s, the group adopted more elements of rock rhythms and electronic technology, lending a more structured approach to the music but losing none of its thrilling edge The departure of Vitous and Gravatt following the release of 1973s Sweetnighter did not hamper the groups progress, with Alphonso Johnson and a succession of drummers proving more than adequate replacements. The groups evolvement reached its peak on 1976s Black Market and the following years Heavy Weather where Zawinul played synthesizer and the brilliant electric bass player Jaco Pastorius appeared with the group.
Weather Reports popularity was at its peak in the late 70s and early 80s, when the group was a four-piece, with drummer Peter Erskine joining Pastorius and the two founder members. Pastorius left the group in 1982 and Erskine was replaced by Omar Hakim from George Bensons band shortly afterwards. For the first time Weather Report included vocals on 1983s Procession. The singer was Janis Siegel from Manhattan Transfer, and the new bass player was Victor Bailey.
During the mid-80s, Zawinul and Shorter made solo albums before dissolving Weather Report in 1986. Shorter led his own small group while Zawinul formed Weather Update with guitarist Steve Khan and Erskine. Hakim went on to become a touring drummer, highly acclaimed for his work with Sting and Eric Clapton.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.