The cause of his death has not been made public
Ronald Bell, who co-founded legendary disco, funk and soul outfit Kool & The Gang with his brother Robert, has passed away at his home in the US Virgin Islands, just a few weeks shy of his 69th birthday. His death has been described as "sudden," but no cause has been given.
Ronald Bell (also known as Khalis Bayyan) was born in Youngstown, Ohio on 1 November 1951, making him a year younger than Robert (also known as Muhammad Bayyan). When the boys were in their early teens, the family relocated to New Jersey, where their father – a professional boxer – introduced them to jazz musician friends such as Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.
They formed their first band, The Jazziacs, in 1964, along with drummer George Brown, trumpeter Robert 'Spike' Mickens, saxophonist Dennis Thomas, and guitarists Ricky West and Charles Smith. That same line-up of musicians would change their name several times before finally settling on Kool & The Gang in 1968, and releasing their first album on the De-Lite label in 1970. The band, who are still touring today, would go on sell over 70 million copies of their 23 studio albums, win two Grammys and seven American Music Awards and rack up 18 UK Top 40 singles – or 19, if you count a re-recording of Ladies Night with Atomic Kitten.
As ever, our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Pic: Vanessaig/Creative Commons, via Wikipedia