Ronald “Khalis” Bell, a founding member of iconic group Kool & The Gang, died Wednesday. He was 68 years old.
According to Deadline, the singer and songwriter died at his residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands. No information regarding his cause of death has been released.
Bell penned and composed some of Kool & the Gang’s most anthemic songs, including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Summer Madness.”
The saxophonist founded the group with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell in 1964 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Later the two added Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West to the line-up.
Kool & the Gang released their debut album in 1970. They quickly rose to the top of the industry’s ranks with a distinct mix of lively jazz, soul and funk. The group went on to have four platinum and eight gold albums. They earned 12 top 10 hits on U.S. charts, and sold 7.5 million albums domestically and more than 70 million worldwide.
Their work is frequently tapped to strike the right mood for film soundtracks, including the compilations for Baby Boy, Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction and Wreck-It Ralph. In 1978, the Gang even won a Grammy for their contribution, a song called “Open Sesame,” on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Kool & the Gang received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame back in 2015 and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame that same year.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bell’s family and loved ones.