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Ronald Bell: Kool & The Gang founder dies aged 68

Ronald Bell: Kool & The Gang founder dies aged 68


Ronald Bell, one of the founder members of Kool & the Gang, has died at the age
of 68. 
He started the band with his brother Robert "Kool" Bell in 1964. 

They became one of the most influential soul and funk bands of the 1970s and
1980s, with hits including Celebration, Ladies' Night and Get Down On It.
Their music also featured in several films including Saturday Night Fever,
for which they received a Grammy in 1978, and Pulp Fiction.

Bell died at his home in the US Virgin Islands with his wife by his side, his 
publicist said. The cause of death was not given. A self-taught saxophonist and 
singer, he founded the group in New Jersey along with Robert and five 
schoolfriends - Dennis Thomas, Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown 
and Ricky West.

Their career was split into two distinct halves. In the early 70s, they scored US 
hits with the foot-stomping funk of songs like Jungle Boogie and Hollywood 
Swinging. Then, with the addition of vocalist James "JT" Taylor in 1979, they 
morphed into a hit-making R&B band, scoring the biggest hits of their career 
as they reached their 20th anniversary.

As the band's musical director, Bell co-wrote most of their biggest hits, including
the wedding disco classic Celebration. 
It was his "favourite song" from the band's
extensive back-catalogue, he told the Reuters news agency in 2008.

"I had no clue, you know," he said. "I was clueless, thinking that that was going
to be a hit. I had no idea.


"But after all these years, there are times at the end of the show when I see all
of these people singing a song, and after all of an hour and a half, you ask them
to jump up and down and they still jump up and down. That's kind of
overwhelming for me."

The group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015 for their
contribution to the world of entertainment.


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