Kool & The Gang Co-Founder, Ronald “Khalis” Bell Has Died, Aged 68

Kool & The Gang Co-Founder, Ronald “Khalis” Bell Has Died, Aged 68

Posted 10 Sep 2020
robert, ronald bell
Robert 'Kool' Bell & Ronald 'Khalis' Bell. Photo by David Corio/Redferns.

In very sad news today, Ronald “Khalis” Bell, a founding member of soul kings, Kool & the Gang has died, aged 68. According to a statement from his label publicist, Bell passed away “suddenly” at his home in the US Virgin Islands but a cause of death is yet to be revealed. 

Bell initially formed a band called the Jazziacs with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell and friends in 1964. They later settled on Kool & The Gang in 1969 and went on to one of the most successful groups of all time. Bell was a driving force behind composing, arranging, producing, and performing many of the band’s biggest songs; blending funk, soul and R&B into feel-good hits like “Celebration,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Cherish,” “Summer Madness” and “Open Sesame.” The late 70s saw Kool & The Gang hit charts around the world with their disco crossover smash, “Ladies Night” that they backed up with a string of Top 10 hits. 

Despite being a dance floor star, Bell’s influences were more classic, telling Black Music in 1974, “My greatest influence was John Coltrane. He was like a god as far as the saxophone was concerned, he was like a master and that’s what brought me into it. The type of music he was playing and the names of the songs, it was really meaningful and that’s what brought me into it. Once I understood what ‘A Love Supreme’ was, that was it, that was the call right there.”

Kool & The Gang’s music also featured in blockbuster films, including Rocky (1976), Saturday Night Fever (1978) and Pulp Fiction (1994); earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards and 31 gold and platinum albums.

Farewell the legendary soul/funk/R&B icon with some of his most well-loved, feel-good hits below. 

Kool & The Gang | “Celebration”

Kool & The Gang | “Jungle Boogie”

Kool & The Gang | “Ladies Night“

Listen to Kool & the Gang on Spotify:

Listen to Kool & the Gang on Apple Music:

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