Kool & the Gang co-founder and singer died at 68

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Ronald “Khalis” Bell, co-founder and singer of Kool & the Gang, has passed away. He was 68 years old.Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday morning with his wife by his side, publicist Sujata Murthy said. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Kool & the Gang went from the roots of jazz in the 1960s to one of the great bands of the 1970s, mixing jazz, funk, R&B and pop. After a brief slowdown, the band enjoyed a comeback in the 1980s.

The group won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack of Saturday night fever. The group received a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame four years later.

As a self-taught musician, Bell created his own signature sound using horn, bass and synth lines.

Bell wrote and composed some of the group’s greatest songs, including Celebration, Cherish, Jungle Boogie and Summer Madness, which has been used in several films including Rocky and Baby boy. The song was also used in a Nike shoe commercial featuring LeBron James.

Bell was working on a series of collaborations, including a solo venture, Kool Baby Brotha Band. He also intended to create a series of animated shorts called Kool TV on the group’s childhood and career.

Bell is survived by 10 children. Murthy said the funeral service will be private.

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