Ronald “Khalis” Bell, a co-founder and singer of Kool & the Gang who also wrote some of the group’s biggest hits, has died Wednesday morning at age 68. Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to publicist Sujata Murthy. No cause of death was released.
Kool & the Gang was formed in 1964 in Jersey City, NJ, by brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald “Khalis” Bell. They were joined by Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West. The band released its debut album in 1970 and became one of the big acts of the decade, powered by hits like “Jungle Boogie” and Hollywood Swingin’ and “Celebration.”
The group won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, which has sold more than 16 million copies in the U.S. alone. Kool & the Gang’s song “Open Sesame” also was featured in the movie.
Ronald Bell wrote and composed some of the group’s biggest songs, including the wedding staple and U.S. No. 1 hit “Celebration,” as well as “Cherish” and “Jungle Boogie.” The latter was featured in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and on its multiplatinum soundtrack.
He also penned “Summer Madness,” which was used in several films including Rocky and Baby Boy and in a Nike shoe commercial featuring LeBron James.
Overall, Kool & the Gang won two Grammys, seven American Music Awards, and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. They sold 7.5 million albums in the U.S. and more than 70 million worldwide.
Information on survivors and memorial plans was not immediately available.
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