Kool & The Gang co-founder Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas died on the age of 70: NPR

Dennis Thomas performs with Kool & the Gang at a concert in Bethlehem, Pa in 2008. Joe Gill / The Express-Times via AP

Toggle caption

Joe Gill / The Express-Times via AP

Dennis Thomas performed with Kool & the Gang in 2008 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Joe Gill / The Express-Times via AP

NEW YORK – Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member of the longtime soul-funk band Kool & the Gang, known for hits like “Celebration” and “Get Down On It”, has died. He was 70.

He died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday in New Jersey, where he lived in Montclair, according to a statement from his agent.

Thomas was an alto saxophonist, flautist and drummer. He served as the master of ceremonies on the band’s shows. His last appearance with the group was on July 4th at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Born in Orlando, Florida on February 9, 1951, Thomas was best known for his prologue to the 1971 hit “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight”. Known for his hip clothes and hats, he was also the group’s wardrobe stylist. In the early days, he served as her “budget hawk” and carried her earnings in a paper bag stuffed into the bell of his horn, the statement said.

In 1964, seven young friends created the unique mix of jazz, soul and funk, which initially called themselves Jazziacs. They went through several iterations before settling at Kool & the Gang in 1969. The other founders of the group are the brothers Ronald and Robert Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith.

Ronald Bell died in his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands on September 9, 2020 at the age of 68.

The band has won two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. You received a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Her music has been heavily sampled and featured on movie soundtracks including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, and Pulp Fiction.

Among those Thomas’s survived are his wife Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin, and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

Comments are closed.