Earth, Wind and Fire saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk has died, aged 71, following a “six-year illness”.

The Grammy-winning group’s frontman Philip Bailey has confirmed the multi-instrumentalist sadly passed away after a lengthy battle with an undisclosed illness.

In a statement re-shared on the band’s social media pages, the 70-year-old lead vocalist wrote: “I met him in high school, and we quickly became friends and band mates. Andrew Paul Woolfolk was his name. We lost him today, after being ill of over 6 years. He has transitioned on to the forever, from this land of the dying to the land of the living. Great memories. Great talent. Funny. Competitive. Quick-witted. And always styling. Booski… I’ll see you on the other side, my friend.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers formed in 1969, with Philip inviting his school friend to join the band in 1973, as the replacement for sax player Ronnie Laws.

As well as the saxophone, Andrew also played flute and percussion for the ‘After the Love Has Gone’ hitmakers.

His first album with the innovative genre-splicing band was 1974’s ‘Open Your Eyes’.

The group – who have sold more than 90 million records worldwide – went on hiatus in 1984 and reunited in 1987, with Andrew leaving in 1993.

Away from Earth, Wind and Fire, the musician collaborated with artists such as Phil Collins, Deniece Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Twennynine and Level 42.

Andrew was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind and Fire in 2000.

In 2017, Woolfolk was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Philip revealed in 2019 that his former bandmate was living in a retirement home.

A cause of death is not known at this time.