Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell dies at 68


Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, a co-founder and singer of the group Kool & the Gang, has died at the age of 68. 

Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday morning with his wife, Tia Sinclair, by his side, publicist Sujata Murthy said on Wednesday. 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. 

RIP: Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, a co-founder and singer of the group Kool & the Gang, has died at the age of 68 (pictured in 2018)

Bell is survived by his wife and 10 children: Kahdijah, Rasheed, Nadirah, Liza, Maryam, Aminah, Jennah, Khalis, Asia and James and grandchildren.  

After a brief downturn, the group, that was once known as Jazziacs, The New Dimensions, The Soul Town Band, Kool & the Flames – before landing as Kool & the Gang in 1969, enjoyed a return to stardom in the ´80s. 

The group won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, as well as five American Music Awards and the BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Family: Bell is survived by his wife Tia Sinclair and 10 children: Kahdijah, Rasheed, Nadirah, Liza, Maryam, Aminah, Jennah, Khalis, Asia and James and grandchildren (pictured in 2013)

Family: Bell is survived by his wife Tia Sinclair and 10 children: Kahdijah, Rasheed, Nadirah, Liza, Maryam, Aminah, Jennah, Khalis, Asia and James and grandchildren (pictured in 2013)

Decades in the works: Bell was a member of the group since 1964 alongside his brother Ronald Bell, Amir Bayyan, Curtis Williams, Dennis Thomas, George Brown, Lavell Evan, Louis Taylor, Shawn McQuiller, Timothy Horton and Michael Ray (Robert and Ronald Bell with James Taylor and George Brow in 2019)

Decades in the works: Bell was a member of the group since 1964 alongside his brother Ronald Bell, Amir Bayyan, Curtis Williams, Dennis Thomas, George Brown, Lavell Evan, Louis Taylor, Shawn McQuiller, Timothy Horton and Michael Ray (Robert and Ronald Bell with James Taylor and George Brow in 2019)

Bell served as the group’s lead composure and wrote some of the group’s biggest hits. 

Through the decades, the group sold 70m albums worldwide and 17 gold and platinum-certified singles. 

Bell was a self-taught musician, known for his saxophone and keyboard playing as well as his signature sound can be heard on the band’s horn lines, bass, synthesizer and vocals. 

Hitmaker: Bell penned their only Billboard Hot 100 number one, Celebration, and their top 10 hits Get Down on It, Ladies Night, Hollywood Swinging and Jungle Boogie (pictured in 2017)

Hitmaker: Bell penned their only Billboard Hot 100 number one, Celebration, and their top 10 hits Get Down on It, Ladies Night, Hollywood Swinging and Jungle Boogie (pictured in 2017)

Self taught: Bell was a self-taught musician, known for his saxophone and keyboard playing as well as his signature sound can be heard on the band's horn lines, bass, synthesizer and vocals (pictured in 2018)

Self taught: Bell was a self-taught musician, known for his saxophone and keyboard playing as well as his signature sound can be heard on the band’s horn lines, bass, synthesizer and vocals (pictured in 2018)

He penned their only Billboard Hot 100 number one, Celebration, and their top 10 hits Get Down on It, Ladies Night, Hollywood Swinging and Jungle Boogie. 

‘At the end of Ladies Night, we are singing, “Come on let’s all celebrate,”‘ Bell told Billboard in 2018 of the hit’s origins. ‘So Celebration comes from the end of Ladies Night,’

Adding: ‘But I actually saw that in a scripture I was reading where the creator of the universe that created man and the angels were all celebrating for doing so, and from that idea it sparked writing Celebration.’

Bell was a member of the group since 1964 alongside his brother Ronald Bell, Amir Bayyan, Curtis Williams, Dennis Thomas, George Brown, Lavell Evan, Louis Taylor, Shawn McQuiller, Timothy Horton and Michael Ray. 

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