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Kool & The Gang co-founder and writer of disco hit ‘Celebration’ Ronald Bell dies

Written by on 10 September 2020

Kool & The Gang co-founder Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell has died, his publicist has said.

Bell, 68, died on Wednesday at his home in the US Virgin Islands with his wife by his side.

The music legend co-wrote many of the band’s most memorable songs, including party favourite Celebration, Jungle Boogie, Ladies Night and Get Down On It.

Image:
Ronald Bell (far right) and the rest of Kool & The Gang in 2019

Despite his huge legacy, Bell remained humble when asked about his contributions to music.

“A lot of the songs, I may have spearheaded ’em. But it’s really, with a ‘K,’ the [collective] genius of a band called Kool & the Gang,” he told The New Yorker in 2018.

Kool & The Gang were one of the biggest bands of the 1970s, winning a Grammy award in 1978 for their work on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack – one of the best-selling albums in history.

They are also one of the most sampled artists of all time, particularly for the track Jungle Boogie.

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The band were honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2015, and three years later Bell was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Popular soul website Soul Tracks lists Celebration as one of the greatest disco songs of all time.

Kool & The Gang at the 1982 American Music Awards
Image:
Kool & The Gang at the 1982 American Music Awards

The beginnings of Kool & The Gang were formed when Bell and his brother Robert ‘Kool’ Bell would collect old paint cans and use them as makeshift percussion instruments.

They later went on to form the Jazziacs with friends Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith.

This eventually became Kool & The Gang.

They made 23 albums spanning decades and have become a staple at weddings and parties.

Bell is survived by his wife and 10 children.

His cause of death is not known.