In 1964, Khalis Bayyan (aka Ronald Bell) and his brother, Robert “Kool”
Bell, joined Jersey City neighborhood friends Robert “Spike” Mickens,
Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith
to create a unique musical blend of jazz, soul and funk. At first calling themselves
the Jazziacs, the band went through various names before settling on their moniker.
Over the next several years, they solidified their musical chemistry on
the rough-and-tumble East Coast music scene, supporting acts like Bill Cosby, Ritchie
Havens and Richard Pryor. Their self-titled 1969 debut album introduced their signature
instrumental sound and fierce horn arrangements and spawned their first Billboard
R & B charted single, “Kool & the Gang.” Since then, the band’s
stellar reputation has grown with each album.
Kool & the Gang has
sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and has influenced the music of three generations.
Their bulletproof funk and jazzy arrangements also have made them the most sampled
band of all time.
Thanks to songs like “Celebration,” “Cherish,”
“Jungle Boogie,” “Summer Madness” and “Open Sesame,”
they’ve earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R
& B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits, and 31 gold and platinum albums.
2006, Kool & the Gang received the NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers)
Chairman Award for lifetime achievement in record sales.
In 2009, the band
made history when they became one of only a handful of American acts to perform in
Cuba in recent years. The group broke down cultural boundaries staging a free outdoor
concert in Havana.
Kool & the Gang has performed continuously for the
past 43 years, longer than any R & B group in history. They continue to perform
to packed audiences of new and old fans around the world.
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