Kool and the Gang

Kool and the Gang

Synopsis of Pop Music

“So bring your good times and your laughter, too,
We’re gonna celebrate your party with you...”

If you’ve listened to the radio at all since 1980, there’s a better-than-average chance that you have heard the Kool and the Gang song “Celebration.” This classic combination of pop hooks and funky grooves has not only been a radio favorite since its release but has also become a much-requested tune at weddings, birthday parties and all kinds of get-togethers. However, there is much more to Kool and the Gang’s career than this classic tune. In fact, Kool and the Gang have racked up countless hits since the early 1970’s thanks to their ability to tailor their musical skills to the tastes of the listening public.

Kool and the Gang got their start as the Jazziacs in the late 1960’s. At first they played only jazz, but they soon mixed in soul and funk to create a driving sound that was complex and earthy at the same time. By 1969, they were calling themselves Kool and the Gang (after bassist Robert ‘Kool’ Bell) and making records. They hit the big time in 1973 with a string of catchy, hook-laden tunes aimed at funk lovers: “Funky Stuff” was a stomping tune punctuated by a whistle and chants of “paaaarty!,” while “Jungle Boogie” combined a horn-driven groove with a low growling voice that told listeners to “get down with the boogie.” These became Top-40 hits, as did the pulse-pounding groove “Hollywood Swinging.”

The group continued to score hits throughout the mid-1970’s with songs like “Spirit Of The Boogie,” a funkfest driven by a pulsating synth hook, and “Open Sesame,” an Arabian-Nights-themed tale that paired frantic horn riffs with wild harmonies as it urged listeners to “Get down with the genie.” As the 1970’s ended, disco began to cut in on the popularity of funk music, inspiring Kool and the Gang to explore new sounds. They also recruited a new lead singer, the velvet-voiced J.T. Taylor, and developed a slicker and more stripped-down style aimed at the disco floor. The end result were big hits with “Ladies Night,” a disco tune, and “Too Hot,” a tale of love gone bad driven home by Taylor’s honey-smooth vocals.

In 1980, Kool and the Gang went from hitmakers to legends with the release of the song “Celebration.” This invitation to getting-down was driven by celebratory burst of horns and the band’s exuberant shouts of “yahoo!” It quickly became a #1 smash and got additional exposure when used by television stations in their coverage of the Iran hostages returning home, the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, and the Superbowl. The group continued in their danceable pop-soul vein with “Get Down On It” in 1981. They continued to score hits throughout the 1980’s, dividing their time evenly between keyboard-driven ballads like “Joanna” and “Cherish” and dance-floor scorchers like “Misled” and “Fresh.”

This amazing period came to a close when J.T. Taylor moved on to a solo career in 1986. However, he did not sever his ties completely: Ronald Bell produced many of his solo recordings. Meanwhile, Kool and the Gang continued to put out albums like Sweat and Unite. In 1995, Taylor returned to the fold for the State of Affairs album. The group continues to record and perform today as they move into their fourth decade of laying down catchy grooves. Their ability to mix danceable rhythms with ear-catching pop hooks ensure that they will always be a favorite group to pop fans who like their sounds funky.

Artist Release History

1969 - Kool and the Gang
1970 - Live At P.J.’s
1971 - Live At The Sex Machine
1972 - Music Is The Message
1973 - Good Times
1973 - Wild and Peaceful
1974 - Light of Worlds
1974 - Kool Jazz
1975 - Spirit of the Boogie
1976 - Love & Understanding
1976 - Open Sesame
1977 - The Force
1978 - Everybody’s Dancin’
1979 - Ladies’ Night
1980 - Celebrate!
1981 - Something Special
1982 - As One
1983 - In The Heart
1984 - Emergency
1986 - Forever
1988 - Spin Their Top Hits
1988 - Everything Is Kool and the Gang – Greatest Hits and More
1989 - Sweat
1991 - Great and Remixed ‘91
1993 - Unite
1993 - The Best of Kool and the Gang 1969-1976
1994 - Celebration: Best Of
1996 - State of Affairs
1999 - 12-Inch Collection and More
1999 - The Very Best of Kool and the Gang

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

The Very Best of Kool and the Gang (Polygram)

Band Members

Robert 'Kool' Bell bass
Robert 'Spike' Mickens trumpet
Ronald 'the Captain' Bell saxophone, keyboards
Dennis 'D.T." Thomas saxophone
Charles 'Claydes' Smith guitar
'Funky' George Brown drums
J.T. Taylor (1979-) lead vocals

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