Ronald Khalis Bell of Kool & the Gang Dies at 68
Written by laserteam on September 11, 2020
(The New York Times) – Ronald Khalis Bell, who with his brother and some neighborhood friends formed the jazz-funk-R&B band that became Kool & the Gang, and who was the lead writer on its biggest hit, the omnipresent feel-good song “Celebration,” died on Wednesday at his home in the Virgin Islands. He was 68.
His wife, Tia Sinclair Bell, announced his death through a spokeswoman. The cause was not given.
Mr. Khalis Bell, who was also a producer and was often credited under his Muslim name, Khalis Bayyan, began dabbling in music as a child, mastering saxophone and keyboards and playing with his brother Robert, a bassist who picked up the nickname Kool in elementary school. The Bell household in Jersey City, N.J., was steeped in jazz influence; the boys’ father, Bobby, was a professional boxer whose friends included the jazz master Thelonious Monk. Miles Davis also sometimes visited.
Kool & the Gang had other hits after “Celebration,” including “Joanna” (1983) and “Cherish” (1985), but Mr. Khalis Bell said that signature song, a worldwide hit, always had a special place in his heart.