Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, Co-Founder of Kool & the Gang, Dies at 68

by Raheem Karim
Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald Khalis Bell
Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald Khalis Bell

The Associated Press

Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, Co-Founder of Kool & the Gang, Dies at 68

Kool & the Gang co-founder, singer and producer Ronald “Khalis” Bell, has died at age 68. Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday morning with his wife by his side, publicist Sujata Murthy said. The cause of death has not been released.

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 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The group is known for many musical styles, blending jazz, soul, funk, rock, and pop music. The group success ran from the early 70s’ into the mid 1980s’.

The band’s finally found success the the release of their fourth album Wild and Peaceful(1973), which contained the US top-ten singles “Jungle Boogie”[1]and “Hollywood Swinging”. Their most successful albums of this period includeLadies’ Night(1979),Celebrate!(1980), andEmergency(1984), their highest selling album with two million copies sold in the US.

Bell wrote and composed some of the group’s biggest songs including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Summer Madness,” which was used in several films including “Rocky” and “Baby Boy.”

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 in 2018.

He is survived by his wife Tia Sinclair Bell; 10 children Kahdijah, Rasheed, Nadirah, Liza, Maryam, Aminah, Jennah, Khalis, Asia and James; grandchildren; brothers Robert Bell, Wahid Bayyan, Amir Bayyan, and his sister Sharifah Bayyan; and his Kool & the Gang band brothers Thomas and Brown among others. The family will hold a private funeral service, and they ask in lieu of flowers that fans support theBoys and Girls Club of America.

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