Kool and the Gang were formed in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964, as a quartet called: the Jazziacs.
The quartet comprised of:
Robert 'Kool' Bell (b. 8th October 1950, Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.A. - bass, vocals) - later known by his Muslim name Amir Bayyan
Robert 'Spike' Mickens (b. Robert Mickens, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 2nd November 2010, Far Rockaway, New York City, New York State, U.S.A. - trumpet, flugel horn, vocals)
Ronald 'The Captain' Bell (b. Ronald Nathan Bell, 1st November 1951, Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.A.d. 9th September 2020, United States Virgin Islands. - tenor and soprano saxophones, keyboards, clavinette, kalimba, alto flute) - later known by his Muslim name Khalis Bayyan
Dennis 'DT (Dee Tee)' Thomas (b. 9th February 1951, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. d. 7th August 2021, U.S.A. - alto saxophone, flute, congas, vocals).
Based in Jersey City, this line-up opened for various acts, including Pharaoh Sanders and Leon Thomas.
They were later joined three further members becoming: the Soul Town Revue.....
Claydes Charles E.X. Smith (b. 6th September 1948, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 20th June 2006, Maplewood, New Jersey, U.S.A. - guitar, percussion, vibes)Rick West (b. Richard Allen Westfield, 7th May 1943, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 1985, U.S.A. - piano, vocals, electric piano)
George 'Funky' Brown (b. 5th January 1949, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 16th November 2023, U.S.A. - drums, vocals, percussion, gong, kettle drums)
By 1969 when they settled on the name: 'Kool And The Gang'.
Kool and the Gang's resume can be, for all intents and purposes, be divided into two recording time periods.....The 'pre' and 'post' 1979 incarnations.
In 1968, the group, now called Kool & the Flames, backed Walter Foster, a bus driver for James Brown, at an audition for the writer and producer Gene Redd.
They used the title of their 1969 debut single, an instrumental entitled 'Kool & the Gang', as their new group name.
kool and the gang - 1969 / music is the message - 1972
Following the name change the group were signed by Gene Redd to his De-Lite Records imprint in 1969.
live at the sex machine - 1971 / live at p.j.'s - 1971
The group recorded a couple of live albums in 1971 including, 'Live at the Sex Machine' and 'Live at P.J.'s', which included versions of the songs 'Walk On By' and 'Wichita Lineman'.
In 1973, Kool and the Gang made the U.S. pop chart in 1973 with 'Funky Stuff', which precipitated 19 further Stateside Top 40 hits on their own De-Lite label.
good times - 1973 / wild and peaceful - 1973
A parent album followed entitled 'Wild and Peaceful', which contained the further hits, 'Jungle Boogie' and 'Hollywood Swinging'.
'Light Of Worlds' followed in 1974, which did see the release of a single 'Rhyme Tyme People', a lesser hit, although the albums moody instrumental 'Summer Madness' created one of the most sampled, and enduring, pieces of Soulful instrumentation.
light of worlds - 1974 / spirit of the boogie - 1975
'1975's 'Spirit Of The Boogie' followed, which saw a reworking of the 'Summer Madness' track, in the form of 'Winter Sadness'.
'Love and Understanding' was released in 1976,and was notable for being part 'live' and part 'studio in format.
A live version of 'Summer Madness', recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England, was to become popular on the Rare Groove scene in the late Eighties.
love and understanding - 1976 / open sesame - 1976
'Open Sesame' became a big dancefloor hit in 1976, shortly followed on by an album of the same name.
The group released two further albums 'The Force' (in 1977) and 'Everbody's Dancin' (in 1978).
the force - 1977 / everybody's dancin' - 1978
Kool and the Gang them underwent a label change and an overall metamorphosis, enlisting the skills of the producer, Eumir Deodato.
The group enlisted:
James 'J.T.' Taylor (b. 16th August 1953, Laurens, South Carolina, U.S.A.)
and Earl Toon Jnr.,
James 'J.T.' Taylor's distinctive vocal style, suited the more pop orientated sound and direction which left the Jazz influences in the group's wake.
ladies night - 1979 / emergency - 1984
Eumir Deodato set the group on a run of chart successes including, title track, 'Ladies Night' (in 1979), 'Too Hot' (in 1980) and the energetic 'Celebration', a 1980 platinum disc and U.S. pop number 1.
The original six members remained with the group into the 80's, although newcomer Toon soon left.
The neucleus of the group became supplemented by, Clifford Adams (trombone) and Michael Ray (trumpet).
In Europe they achieved similar successes, especially in the U.K. where 'Get Down On It' (1981) and 'Joanna' (1984) each reached the Top 5.
Their 1984 album 'Emergency' contained four top 20 hits, including 'Fresh' and 'Cherish'.
'JT' Taylor and Ronald Bell (who started using the name Khalis Bayyan) then left the group in 1988, temporarily, although they did not achieve their earlier successes of the early Eighties.
The duo were replaced by three singers, former Dazz Band member Skip Martin, along with Odeen Mays and Gary Brown.
'JT' Taylor released a solo album in 1989, 'Sister Rosa', while the same year the group continued recording with the album 'Sweat'.
Kool and the Gang rose to popularity again, in 1994, following 'Jungle Boogie' becoming featured on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's film vehicle 'Pulp Fiction'.
The band released the album 'Still Kool' in 2007.
The compilation set 'The Singles Collection' showed that Taylor left behind him one of the most engaging and successful of soul / funk catalogues, although with U.K. soul fans, it is the Seventies that heralded the group at their recording and writing peak.
'Summer Madness' has been utilised by countless rappers as a sample, most notably, by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for their song 'Summertime'.
Rick West passed away in 1985, following a long illness.
Charles Smith passed away on the 20th of June 2006, in Maplewood, New Jersey, again, following a long illness.
Ronald Bell, sadly, passed away, in the United States Virgin Island's, in September 2020.
George Brown died in November 2023 from lung cancer.
Kool And The Gang (De-Lite Records 1969)
Live At The Sex Machine (De-Lite Records 1971)
Live At P.J.'s (De-Lite Records 1971)
Music Is The Message (De-Lite Records 1972)
Good Times (De-Lite Records 1973)
Wild And Peaceful (De-Lite Records 1973)
Light Of Worlds (De-Lite Records 1974)
Spirit Of The Boogie (De-Lite Records 1975)
Love And Understanding (De-Lite Records 1976)
Open Sesame (De-Lite Records 1976)
The Force (De-Lite Records 1977)
Everbody's Dancin' (De-Lite Records 1978)
Ladies' Night (De-Lite Records 1979)
Celebrate! (De-Lite Records 1980)
Something Special (De-Lite Records 1981)
As One (De-Lite Records 1982)
In The Heart (De-Lite Records 1983)
Emergency (De-Lite Records 1984)
Victory (Curb Records 1986)
Forever (Mercury Records 1986)
Sweat (Mercury Records 1989)
Kool Love (Telstar Records 1990)
State Of Affairs (Curb Records 1996)