Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell dies at 68
Free Press wire reports | 9/17/2020, 6 p.m.
LOS ANGELES - Ronald “Khalis” Bell, a co-founder, singer and producer of the group Kool & the Gang, died Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. He was 68.
Mr. Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands with his wife by his side, publicist Sujata Murthy said. The cause of death has not been released.
Kool & the Gang grew from jazz roots in the 1960s to become one of the major groups of the 1970s, blending jazz, funk, R&B and pop.
After a brief downturn, the group enjoyed a return to stardom in the 1980s.
Mr. Bell started the group with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell along with neighborhood friends Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West.
Kool & the Gang won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever.” The group was honored with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame four years later.
As a self-taught musician, Mr. Bell created his own signature sound using horn lines, bass and synthesizer.
Mr. Bell wrote and composed some of the group’s biggest hits, including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Summer Mad- ness,” which was used in several films including “Rocky” and “Baby Boy.” The song also was used in a Nike shoe commercial in 2006 featuring LeBron James. Mr. Bell was working on a series of collaborations including a solo endeavor, “Kool Baby Brotha Band.” He also had plans of putting together a series of animated shorts called “Kool TV” about their childhood and career.
Mr. Bell also is survived by 10 children. The service for Mr. Bell will be private.