Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald “Khalis” Bell died Wednesday, September 9 at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his wife and agent Tia Sinclair Bell has confirmed. He was 68. The cause of death has not been revealed.
Bell launched the group with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell and others in 1964, and wrote and produced the group’s biggest hits, including 1980’s “Celebration” and 1985’s “Cherish.”
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According to Variety, Kool & the Gang performed continuously longer than any R&B group in history. The band in recent years appeared alongside Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John and The Roots, and performed on a 50-city tour with rock legends Van Halen.
Bell also had a hand in developing emerging artists, such as The Fugees. Then known as the Tranzlator Crew, he worked with them on their debut album Blunted Reality.
The band released music as recently as 2016. In 2018, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Bell is survived by 10 children, Kahdijah, Rasheed, Nadirah, Liza, Maryam, Aminah, Jennah, Khalis, Asia and James; grandchildren; brothers Robert “Kool” Bell, Wahid Bayyan, Amir Bayyan and sister Sharifah Bayyan; and his wife Tia Sinclair Bell.