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Based on the first intentions of young high school students growing up in Jersey City, KOOL & THE GANG has continued to maintain its character throughout three decades of music. Robert (Kool) Bell, his brother Khalis Bayan (Ronald Bell), George Brown, Dennis (DeeTee) Thomas, Robert (Spike) Mickens, and (soon after) Claydes (Charles) Smith began battling out the music at an early age. Eager to play, they accepted performances anywhere that they could find an audience who would appreciate their music and their message. Adapting their original mode of jazz to include rhythm and blues with a street momentum, their music evolved with the world. As they grew with their music and their performance, they always showed a deep commitment to others through active involvement with the Boys Club, St. Joseph's Home for The Blind, and the Red Cross. Despite the name changes and musical trends, Kool & the Gang still possess those original attributes of great talent, solidarity, and a desire to give to the world what they have to offer: their music and a bit of themselves.
Debuting on De-Lite Records in 1969, their first song "Kool & the Gang," off the self-titled LP, hit on both the Billboard and R&B charts. As their debut was strong, their success continued with the singles "The Gang's Back Again," "Let the Music Take Your Mind," and "Funky Man." Their next seven albums, recorded between 1969 and 1974, always made a strong impression with their fans, and Live at the Sex Machine became their first charted LP. With momentum now behind them, they stepped into widespread popular acclaim in 1973 with the single "Funky Stuff." In 1976, Clifford Adams, trombone, joined the group and added his own vivacious energy to the music, as can be heard in their next smash "Open Sesame" (also included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack). Just as those singles had shown the quality of music that Kool & the Gang exposed, their next two songs followed the same path and surpassed it: "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swingin'" rode into the top 10 and sold millions. Intent on continuing to develop their music in new spheres, J.T. Taylor joined the group in 1978 as the first visible lead singer. Keeping with their solid pace, Kool & the Gang led the way into the '80s with such classic grooves as "Ladies' Night," "Too Hot," "Joanna," and, of course, "Celebration." Deemed "The Music Group of the Decades" about that time, Kool & the Gang prevailed as an inspiring, stalwart musical force that captured the dance enthusiasm and the soul of rhythm and blues in a strapping, progressive culmination.
As the band advanced further into the '80s, their relaxed style allowed them further success. "Get Down On It" from Something Special brought notoriety and a substantial following in the U.K. The As One compilation with the hit "Ooh La La La (Let's Go Dancing)" propelled them into higher acclaim as their first gold record. Throughout the next few years, Kool & the Gang maintained their high success with more hits and notable ventures. In 1984, the songs "Emergency," "Fresh," "Misled," and "Cherish" hit the top of the U.S. charts while they pounded out the music on tour in the U.K. Always promoters of goodwill and higher ideals, Kool & the Gang also participated during this time as the only American performers to be involved in the recording of Band Aid's efforts to relieve famine in Africa with the single "Do They Know It's Christmas Time." In 1986, Curtis Williams melded right into the group to record Forever, off of which two more singles, "Victory" and "Stone Love," were born.
By this time, Kool & the Gang had created more than 25 R&B Top Ten hits (nine of which went all the way to #1), nine Top Ten Pop hits, and 27 gold or platinum records, as well as receiving seven American Music Awards. After a sold-out world tour in 1987, some members of Kool & the Gang chose to pursue other various projects for a time. J.T. Taylor made both his Hollywood and Broadway acting debuts in The Mambo Kings and Raisin, respectively. Also departing for a time, Khalis Bayan (Ronald Bell) pursued other writing and producing opportunities from which he now returns. The remaining members of Kool & the Gang utilized the time to do a project of greatest hits with some variations and remixing of older songs.
With the release of State of Affairs, an international tour in 1995/96, and the introduction of their single "Salute to the Ladies," Kool & the Gang again startled the music scene with a tremendous blend of soulful, riveting music and decadent performances. Their aspirations never having been diverted from humanistic ideals and a commitment to higher music, Kool & the Gang continues to be a powerfront for a conscientious and captivating groove.