Ronald Bell, co-founder of the group Kool & the Gang, known for their chart-topping singles Celebration and Jungle Boogie, has passed away.
The multitalented Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, co-founder of the chart-topping soul and funk group Kool & the Gang, has died at the age of 68. Bell was a songwriter, vocalist, saxophonist, and producer for the group for over 40 years.
A publicist for Kool & the Gang confirmed Bell passed away on Wednesday morning at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. No cause of death was provided.
Bell formed the Grammy award-winning group with his brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell in the 1960s, recruiting their neighbourhood friends Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith. As children, the brother’s would perform as street percussionists, teaching themselves to drum on old paint cans because they were unable to afford a real drum set.
Kool & the Gang would go on to be pioneers in the combination of jazz, soul, funk, and R&B. The group had 12 top-10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. They also won Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammy Awards for their soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever.
Thank you thank you thank you for everything Ronald “Khalis” Bell of Kool and the Gang. Rest In Peace to an amazing musical genius and great person whose music made life that much better for me and I was fortunate to be able to tell him. pic.twitter.com/np7advshRh
— J-Zone (The Du-Rites) (@jzonedonttweet) September 10, 2020
Before his passing, Bell had plans to create a series of animated shorts called Kool TV based on his childhood and career.
Bell is survived by 10 children and the tune of his song Celebration will live on in the minds of the general public forever.