Kool & The Gang

Kool & The Gang were an American soul-funk band from Jersey City that released 18 albums on De-Lite Records between 1970 and 1984. 

Members: Robert Bell (bass, vocals), George Brown (drums, percussion, vocals), Dennis D.T. Thomas (alto saxophone, flute, percussion, vocals), Charles Smith (guitar, 1968-2006), Ronald Bell (aka Khalis Bayyan, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto flute, synthesizer, bass, percussion, piano, vocals, 1964-88, 1993-present), Robert “Spike” Mickens (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals, 1968-86), Ricky West (piano, keyboards, vocals, 1968-76), Kevin Lassiter (keyboards, synthesizer, clavinet, percussion, vocals, 1978-79), Clifford Adams (trombone, 1978-present), Sir Earl Toon (keyboards, 1979-present), James “J.T.” Taylor (vocals, 1979-88, 1995-99), Curtis Williams (alto saxophone, synthesizer, vocals, 1982-present)

Kool & The Gang took root in a Jersey City school band named The Jazziacs, formed in 1964 by brothers Robert “Kool” Bell (bass) and Ronald Bell (tenor sax, flute). Robert adopted the nickname Kool to jibe with neighborhood street gangs. The Bell’s father, Bobby, was a boxer who once roomed with Thelonious Monk and trained with Miles Davis.

The Jazziacs also featured trumpeter Robert “Spike” Mickens, alto saxophonist Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, keyboardist Ricky West, drummer George Brown, and guitarist Charles Smith. All but Smith were schoolmates of the Bell’s at Lincoln High School in Jersey City. They initially played on the opening slots of local Sunday night jazz bills. After masquerading under alternate names (The Soul Town Band, The New Dimensions), they became the house band for Soul Town, a local organization that was fielding aspiring soul singers.

In 1967, the band scored a residency at the Blue Note Lounge, where an MC mistakenly billed them as Kool & The Flames. They were taken under the managerial wing of producer and ex-doo wop singer/musician Gene Redd Jr. (brother of singer Sharon Redd). At his insistence, they altered their name to Kool & The Gang to avoid confusion with James Brown‘s backing band The Famous Flames. Redd secured their contract with the upstart soul-funk label De-Lite Records.

Kool and the Gang

Kool & The Gang released their self-titled debut album in December 1969 on De-Lite.

“Kool & The Gang” (b/w “Raw Hamburger”).

Live at the Sex Machine

In February 1971, Kool & The Gang released Live at the Sex Machine, their first live album.

Live at P.J.’s

In October 1971, Kool & The Gang released Live at P.J.’s, their second live album.

Music Is the Message

Kool & The Gang released their second studio album, Music Is the Message, in July 1972 on De-Lite.

Good Times

Kool & The Gang released their third studio album, Good Times, in November 1972 on De-Lite.

“Country Junky”

Wild and Peaceful

Kool & The Gang released their fourth studio album, Wild and Peaceful, in September 1973 on De-Lite.

“Funky Stuff”
Released: September 1973
“Jungle Boogie”
Released: November 24, 1973
“Hollywood Swinging”
Released: April 6, 1974

Light of Worlds

Kool & The Gang released their fifth studio album, Light of Worlds, in September 1974 on De-Lite.

“Higher Plane”

“Rhyme Tyme People”

“Summer Madness”

Spirit of the Boogie

Kool & The Gang released their sixth studio album, Spirit of the Boogie, in August 1975 on De-Lite.

back cover

“Spirit of the Boogie”
Released: March 13, 1975
“Caribbean Festival”
Released: June 1975

Love & Understanding

Kool & The Gang released their seventh studio album, Love & Understanding, in March 1976 on De-Lite.

Open Sesame

Kool & The Gang released their eighth studio album, Open Sesame, in November 1976 on De-Lite.

The Force

Kool & The Gang released their ninth studio album, The Force, in 1977 on De-Lite.

Everybody’s Dancin’

Kool & The Gang released their tenth studio album, Everybody’s Dancin’, in 1978 on De-Lite.

Ladies’ Night

Kool & The Gang released their eleventh studio album, Ladies’ Night, on September 6, 1979, on De-Lite.

“Ladies’ Night”
Released: October 5, 1979
“Too Hot”
Released: January 13, 1980
“Hangin’ Out”
Released: April 1980


Kool & The Gang released their twelfth studio album, Celebrate!, on September 29, 1980, on De-Lite.

Released: October 1980
“Take It To the Top”
Released: January 1981
“Jones vs. Jones”
Released: April 1981

Something Special

Kool & The Gang released their thirteenth studio album, Something Special, on September 24, 1981, on De-Lite.

“Steppin’ Out”
Released: September 1981
“Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)”
Released: October 1981
“Get Down On It”
Released: November 24, 1981

As One

Kool & The Gang released their fourteenth studio album, As One, on September 7, 1982, on De-Lite.

“Street Kids”

In the Heart

Kool & The Gang released their fifteenth studio album, In the Heart, on November 21, 1983, on De-Lite.

Released: December 17, 1983

Released: January 1984


Kool & The Gang released their sixteenth studio album, Emergency, on November 15, 1984, on De-Lite.

Released: November 2, 1984

Released: November 24, 1984

Released: May 1985

Released: August 1985


Kool & The Gang released their seventeenth studio album, Forever, on November 3, 1986, on Mercury.

Released: November 1986
“Stone Love”
Released: February 1987
Released: May 1987
“Special Way”
Released: 1987
Released: 1987


  • Kool and the Gang (1970)
  • Live at the Sex Machine (1971)
  • Live at P.J.’s (1971)
  • Music Is the Message (1972)
  • Good Times (1973)
  • Wild and Peaceful (1973)
  • Light of Worlds (1974)
  • Spirit of the Boogie (1975)
  • Love & Understanding (1976)
  • Open Sesame (1976)
  • The Force (1977)
  • Everybody’s Dancin’ (1978)
  • Ladies’ Night (1979)
  • Celebrate! (1980)
  • Something Special (1981)
  • As One (1982)
  • In the Heart (1983)
  • Emergency (1984)
  • Forever (1986)
  • Sweat (1989)


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