Guitarist, songwriter, producer and former Earth, Wind & Fire member Al McKay is the Kevin Bacon of Soul Music. It is tough to find an important artist in the genre that is more that two degrees of separation from him. Hailing from New Orleans, McKay cut his chops as a guitarist as part of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. He followed this with short stints with Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Band and as part of Sammy Davis's backing band. By this time, McKay had become a much sought after session guitarist in L.A. and performed with a number of acts.
Ultimately, his reputation landed him a spot with an up-and-coming group out of Chicago named Earth, Wind & Fire. As a guitarist for the group and co-writer of some of EWF's biggest hits, including "September," "Saturday Nite" and "Singasong," McKay helped EWF become one of the leading groups of the mid-70s and perhaps the hottest concert ticket around. He ultimately left EWF in 1981 and spent the decade single-parenting his son while also producing a number of great albums for artists such as Durell Coleman, Carl Anderson, Finis Henderson, and his shining achievement, the Temptations' magnificent Truly for You -- their finest album of that decade.
In the 90s he formed a supergroup consisting of great musicians called the "Al McKay All Stars" and has toured the globe as the group's leader for a decade and a half. He continued as a popular session guitarist for acts from Celine Dion to Dave Koz and in 2003 produced the fine album Right Here All Along by Ali Ollie Woodson. He also released Al Dente, an album of new studio versions of some of his biggest work with Earth, Wind & Fire.
In 2006, after years of traveling around the world with his rotating posse of Allstars, McKay released The Earth Wind & Fire Experience, a live, two-disc tribute to the music of EWF.
by Chris Rizik