Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell, Kool & the Gang Co-founder, Dead at 68

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Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP, File

Ronald “Khalis” Bell, the self-taught musician who co-founded and sang in Kool & the Gang, one of the biggest bands of the 1970s, has died. He was 68.

Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday morning with his wife, Tia Sinclair Bell, by his side, the band’s publicist Sujata Murthy said in a statement. The cause of death has not been released.

Bell co-wrote many of the group’s biggest hits, including “Ladies Night,” “Jungle Boogie,” the band’s No. 1 hit “Celebration” and “Summer Madness,” which was used in several films, including “Rocky.” The song was also used in a Nike shoe commercial in 2006 featuring LeBron James.

In 1964, Bell and his brother, Robert “Kool” Bell, joined neighborhood friends Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West to create a unique musical blend of jazz, soul and funk. At first calling themselves the Jazziacs, the band went through various names changes before settling on their famous moniker Kool and the Gang, officially launched in 1969.

SOURCE: USA Today, Bryan Alexander