Ronald 'Khalis' Bell, Kool & the Gang co-founder, dead at 68

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24: Ronald Bell during SAG-AFTRA foundation career retrospective conversations with Kool and The Gang's Ronald "Khalis" Bell at The Robin Williams Center on January 24, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Kool & the Gang co-founder and singer, Ronald “Khalis” Bell, is dead. He was 68.

Bell passed away in the U.S. Virgin Islands at his home on Wednesday morning with his wife by his side, publicist Sujata Murthy said.

No information regarding his cause of death has been released.

Kool & the Gang grew from jazz roots in the 1960s to become one of the major groups of the 1970s. They blended jazz, funk, R&B and pop. After a brief downturn, the group enjoyed a return to stardom in the 1980s.

The group's hits include "Get Down on It," "Celebration," "Jungle Boogie," "Cherish" and more.


HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 08: Robert 'Kool' Bell, Ronald Khalis Bell, Dennis 'DT' Thomas and George Brown of Kool & The Gang attend the ceremony honoring them with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 8, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (P

The group won a Grammy in 1978 for their work on the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever.” Their song "Open Sesame" was featured on the iconic album.

Their song "Summer Madness" was used in several films including “Rocky” and “Baby Boy." The hit was also used in a Nike shoe commercial featuring LeBron James.

Bell started the group with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell along with neighborhood friends Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West.

In addition to his wife, Bell is survived by 10 children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.