Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald “Khalis” Bell, who was credited as a writer and producer on the group’s biggest hits — among them: 1980’s “Celebration” and 1985’s “Cherish” — died Wednesday Sept. 9 at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his wife and agent Tia Sinclair Bell said in a statement on Sept. 10. He was 68. The cause of death has not been revealed.
Bell was a driving force behind Kool & the Gang, composing, arranging, producing and performing with the group which saw success in multiple decades over 50 years. In addition to the aforementioned earworms of our time, other hits by the band included “Get Down On It,” “Joanna” and “Fresh.”
Kool & the Gang performed continuously longer than any R&B group in history. The band, who won two Grammy Awards, also appeared alongside Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John and The Roots, and performed on a 50-city tour with rock legends Van Halen.
Their music is featured on the soundtracks to “Rocky,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.” “Celebration” is also regarded among the most popular wedding songs of all-time.
Who Is Khanis Ronald Bell ?
Ronald Nathan Bell a.k.a. Khalis Bayyan was born in Youngstown, Ohio, United States November 1, 1951.
He was an American composer, singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and co-founding member of Kool & the Gang.
in November 1951 to Aminah Bayyan (1932–2014) and Robert “Bobby” Bell (1929–1985), a professional boxer and golden gloves amateur boxing winner, who traveled extensively on the boxing circuit throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
In the segregated South, black musical acts and boxers on tour would often find themselves in the same accommodations, town after town, and Bobby would often bring home his jazz friends’ recordings. It was during those years on the road that Bobby became friends with Miles Davis, and a roommate to Thelonious Monk.
Bell composed, arranged, produced and performed some of the most popular music. A self-taught musician, his signature sound can be heard on the band’s horn lines, bass, synthesizer and vocals.
He wrote and produced many of the band’s songs including “Celebration”, “Cherish”, “Jungle Boogie”, “Summer Madness”, and “Open Sesame”.
Ronald Bell Khalis Personal life
Bell was Muslim, and was given the name Khalis Bayyan by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.
He was also the father of singer Rachid “Rasalus” Bell, who often performs under the stage name Ra.
Bell died at his home in the United States Virgin Islands on September 9, 2020, at age 68.
No cause was given, but the death was described as sudden.