Singer-saxophonist Ronald “Khalis” Bell, one of the co-founding members and primary songwriters of the acclaimed jazz/funk fusion group Kool & the Gang, has died at age 68. Reports of Bell’s death began to emerge on Wednesday evening hours following his passing, but a cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Bell would go on to be known by the name “Khalis Bayyan” later in his life, according to Rolling Stone, and co-wrote a number of the band’s most popular songs over the years including “Get Down On It”, “Ladies’ Night”, “Jungle Boogie”, and “Celebration”, to name a few.
Kool & The Gang – “Get Down On It”
Bell and his brother Robert “Kool” Bell formed the foundation of what would become Kool & the Gang after moving to Jersey City, NJ in the mid-1960s, and the band released their self-titled debut album in 1970. Over the years, the Kool & the Gang expanded its sound from their beginnings as a jazz and funk-inspired outfit, to embracing R&B and soul styles, along with radio-friendly disco sounds in the later 70s and into the 80s. Khalis Bell and his brother were both inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
The band remained active up to the present day as a legacy act, and even participated in the Let’s Stay (In) Together virtual event benefitting New York City’s Apollo Theater back on June 2nd.
[H/T Rolling Stone]