Ronald Bell, who originally founded the influential band Kool & The Gang alongside his brother Robert, has died at the age of 68. The BBC reports that Ronald Bell passed away in his home in the company of his wife . As of now, the cause of death remains unknown.
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In 1964, Bell, his brother, and five friends — Dennis Thomas, Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West — banded together to form Kool & The Gang; Ronald played keyboards. Together, they went on to release their self-titled and wholly instrumental debut album in 1970. In September of 1973, the group achieved their first taste of commercial success with their Wild And Peaceful album, and from there they went on to release classic hits like “Ladies Night,” “Jungle Boogie, “Celebration,” “Get Down On It,” and more. Many of those very same hits were co-written by Ronald Bell.
The BBC highlights how the Bell brothers used to collect old paint cans in order to construct makeshift drums. “I used to beat paint cans like bongos, and depending on how much paint was inside, this would determine the tone of the sounds we made,” he recalled, when speaking on his early days discovering music.
While Kool & The Gang were not a hip-hop band, their presence could certainly be felt within the culture all the same. Their music has been sampled in songs by Nas, Eric B & Rakim, N.W.A, Luniz, Mase, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, 2Pac, Anderson .Paak, the Wu-Tang Clan, and countless others. The loss of Ronald Bell will be felt by fans of music, period. Today, we’d like to send our condolences to the family of Ronald Bell. Rest in peace.