Kool & the Gang

  • Funk/R&B band formed in 1964 from Jersey City NJ. There have been many members over the years. Four of the original seven members are still with the band – Robert Bell (Kool – playing bass guitar), his brother Ronald Bell (keyboards), Dennis Thomas (saxophone) and George Brown (drums).
  • “Kool” Bell was 13 years old when he started the band. Initially, they were an instrumental group, called the Jazziacs. The name changed to The New Dimension, then to The Soul Town Band, then Kool & the Flames, and then in 1969, to Kool & the Gang.
  • They signed their first record deal in 1969. Their debut album, Kool & the Gang produced 3 minor R&B hits. It featured a sound that they still use almost 50 years later – a fierce horn arrangement.
  • The band continued to release music with a funk sound throughout the 70s, and they turned to more of a smooth-disco sound during the back half of the decade. Their biggest hits during this period included Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging, Ladies Night, and Too Hot. They released 11 studio albums and 2 live albums over this period, with 1979s Ladies Night their first to exceed 1 million copies sold, reaching #1 on the R&B chart, and #13 on the Billboard 200 chart.
  • Over the next 7 years, Kool & the Gang had their biggest success. In 1980, they released Celebrate!, which included one of my ultimate party songs, Celebration – their only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (they did have 9 singles hit #1 on the Billboard R&B chart). Other big hits during this period were Get Down On It, Joanna, and Cherish.
  • Currently there are 11 members in the band. They’ve released 23 studio albums and 68 singles. They continue to tour today – they have 33 concerts planned this June through August in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, with a concert in Chile planned for September. They’ve won 2 Grammy awards (one for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, on which they contributed the jazzy Open Sesame).
  • Kool & the Gang features music styles that are infectious to me – most notably, a catchy toe-tapping beat and a prominent horn section (see also Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, etc.). Lots of energy, lots of fun when Kool & the Gang is playing at the party! Listen to Celebration – I guarantee “we gonna have a good time tonight, let’s celebrate, it’s alright!” Probably one of the best wedding songs ever.

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