It seems like we're saying goodbye to too many great people far too quickly these days. Kool and the Gang was a popular pop group of the 1970s and 80s that was made up of a group of New Jersey school friends and founded by two brothers, Robert Bell, known as "Kool" and Ronald Bell, known as "Khalis." Now, one of the founders of the influential group is gone as Ronald Bell has died at the age of 68.
Ronald Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. and the BBC reports his wife was by his side. The cause of death is currently unknown.
In addition to the Bell brothers, Kool and the Gang included Dennis Thomas, Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West who were all school friends in New Jersey in the 1960s. They performed under other names but officially became Kool & the Gang in 1969.
Kool and the Gang had a collection of hits throughout the 1970s and '80s which include "Jungle Boogie," "Ladies' Night," and "Celebration," which became the band's only number one hit in 1980. Ronald Bell was the musical director for Kool and the Gand and he co-wrote most of the band's biggest hits, including "Celebration."
Ronald Bell came from a musical family. His father was a professional boxer in Ohio but was friends with both Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis.
While Kool and the Gang faded from prominence throughout the 1980s, Ronald Bell continued to tour and perform throughout the 1990s and 2000s. At the time of his death, he was working on a new solo album called Kool Baby Brotha Band
Because of the popularity of the band Kool and the Gang's music has been featured in a number of films and television series over the years, IMDb lists nearly 200 times that Kool and the Gang has appeared on a soundtrack. Most notably, the song "Open Sesame" was used in Saturday Night Fever, the hit "Jungle Boogie" played over the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, and the song "Summer Madness" appears in the original Rocky, though it was left off the official soundtrack.
While one of the founders of Kool and the Gang may be gone, the band's top songs have already stood the test of time and we can be sure we'll be hearing them for years to come. They'll appear in more movies and television and if nothing else "Celebration" will continue to make an appearance at every wedding you ever attend.