Kool & The Gang are an American jazz/R&B/soul/funk/disco group. They originally formed in Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S. in 1964. They went through several musical phases in their career, starting out with a purist jazz sound, becoming practitioners of R&B and funk, progressing to a smooth disco ensemble, and ended the successful period of their career producing pop/R&B crossovers. They have sold over 70 million albums worldwide.
The group's main members over the years included brothers Robert Bell (known as "Kool") on bass and Ronald Bell on tenor saxophone; George Brown on drums; Robert Mickens on trumpet; Dennis Thomas on alto saxophone; Claydes Charles Smith on guitar, and Rick Westfield on keyboards. In 1964 Robert formed an instrumental band called the Jazziacs with five high school friends. They changed their name to Kool & the Gang and were signed by Gene Redd to his then new De-Lite Records in 1969. They first hit the pop charts with the release of their debut eponymous album.
Though none of the three singles from the album went far on the pop charts, their R&B success was swift and massive. Several live and studio albums followed, with 1973's Wild and Peaceful breaking into the mainstream with "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swinging". Many reviews see the Gang's 1974 album Light of Worlds and 1975 album Spirit of the Boogie as the greatest achievements of the band, with the 1975 single "Summer Madness" gaining much attention. However, after the release of those albums the band abandoned deep funk-music and switched to disco.
The late 1970s saw a lull in Kool & the Gang's career that ended — after new lead singer James "J.T." Taylor joined the group — with 1979's Ladies' Night, the title track from which spawned a 25-year-long tradition of ladies' nights in New Jersey dance clubs and bars.
Their only #1 hit was 1980s "Celebration", off Celebrate!, produced by Eumir Deodato. More international hits followed in the early 1980s, including "Big Fun", "Get Down on It" and "Joanna". Their 1984 album Emergency yielded four top 20 hits, including "Fresh" and "Cherish." Their chart presence stopped abruptly after the Forever album, when both Taylor and Ronald Bell (who started using the name Khalis Bayyan) left the group; both would eventually return, but the hits would not.
Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness" off their 1974 album Light of Worlds has been sampled numerous times. Most notably, it was used by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for their version of "Summertime" as well as being featured in the 1976 smash hit Rocky. A live version of the track recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London, England was released in 1976 on the Love & Understanding album (De-Lite DEP 2018). Live at PJ's' track "N.T" has been sampled extensively, by artists such as Boogie Down Productions, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, N.W.A and Kris Kross. [wikipedia]