Ronald Bell, the founding member of Kool & The Gang, has died aged 68
Ronald Bell, the co-founder of Kool & The Gang, has suddenly passed away suddenly at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands aged 68. His publicist has not confirmed his cause of death.
The two-time Grammy Award-winning Kool & the Gang was formed in New Jersey all the way back in 1964 along with his brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, Dennis ‘D.T.’ Thomas, Robert ‘Spike’ Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West.
Together, they had a career spanning over the course of their five-decade career which saw Kool & The Gang sell an astonishing 70 million albums worldwide as well as achieving 12 top ten singles in the US. Their songs helped soundtrack the ’70s and ’80s as well as featuring in soundtracks for classic films including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, and Pulp Fiction.
Reflecting on the struggles the band faced during their inception, Bell once explained that the members of Kool & The Gang needed to force a change in their style: “You had a hard time trying to get us to play R&B,” Ronald told Rolling Stone. “We were diehard jazz musicians. We’re not stooping to that. We didn’t really try to do that until now.
“We used to play a lot of percussion in the streets in the Sixties, go to the park and start beating on drums and stuff in the street. We were very street percussive [on that album], so we blended that element with listening to jazz,” he added. “You could hear the jazz element. You could hear the Motown element.”
Soon enough Ronald was seen as being the driving force behind their operation who turned his hand to everything in the creative process and was a vital cog in Kool & The Gang’s machine. The group’s hits include ‘Celebration’, ‘Jungle Boogie’, ‘Cherish’, ‘Ladies Night’, ‘Joanna’, and ‘Higher Plane’.