Weather Report Biography

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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 group’s 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 Zawinul’s 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 1973’s Sweetnighter did not hamper the group’s progress, with Alphonso Johnson and a succession of drummers proving more than adequate replacements. The group’s evolvement reached its peak on 1976’s Black Market and the following year’s Heavy Weather where Zawinul played synthesizer and the brilliant electric bass player Jaco Pastorius appeared with the group.

Weather Report’s 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 Benson’s band shortly afterwards. For the first time Weather Report included vocals on 1983’s 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.


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