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Ronald Bell (musician)

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Ronald Bell
Bell in 2019
Bell in 2019
Background information
Birth nameRonald Nathan Bell
Also known asKhalis Bayyan
Born(1951-11-01)November 1, 1951
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
OriginWest Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedSeptember 9, 2020(2020-09-09) (aged 68)
United States Virgin Islands
GenresClassical, jazz, funk, R&B
Occupation(s)Composer, singer, songwriter, arranger, producer
Instrument(s)Saxophone, vocals
Years active1964–2020
Formerly ofKool & the Gang

Ronald Nathan Bell (November 1, 1951 – September 9, 2020), also known as Khalis Bayyan,[1] was an American composer, singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, saxophonist and co-founding member of Kool & the Gang. The band recorded nine No. 1 R&B singles in the 1970s and 1980s, including its No. 1 pop single "Celebration".[2] The group is honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[3]

Early life[edit]

Bell was born in Youngstown, Ohio,[4][5] to Aminah Bayyan (1932–2014) and Robert "Bobby" Bell (1929–1985). His father was a professional boxer and Golden Gloves amateur boxing winner.[6] Training in Elwood, New York, he hung out with jazz players and became friends with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk,[7][8] who lived in the same apartment building as the elder Bell.[7][9]

Ronald Bell and his brother, Robert "Kool" Bell, were introduced to jazz at around five or six.[10] The family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1960. In 1964, the brothers joined neighborhood friends Spike Mickens, Dennis Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith to create a distinctive musical blend of jazz, soul, and funk.[11] At first calling themselves "The Jazziacs", the band went through various name changes—the New Dimensions, the Soul Town Band, and Kool & the Flames—before settling on Kool & the Gang in 1968.[12]


Ronald Bell composed, arranged, produced and performed some of the most popular music in Kool and the Gang's body of work.[13] He was a self-taught musician, and his distinctive sound is on the group's horn lines, bass, synthesizer and vocals. He wrote and produced many of the Kool & the Gang's songs, including "Celebration", "Cherish", "Jungle Boogie", "Summer Madness", and "Open Sesame".[14] He said his favorite song was "Celebration", which he wrote after reading a passage in the Quran.[15]

Personal life and death[edit]

Bell converted to Islam in 1972, initially joining The Nation of Islam. He was given the name Khalis Bayyan by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.[16] He was married to Tia Sinclair Bell and had 10 children.[17] His son, Rachid, released his debut album in 1998, and achieved a top 40 hit on the Dance Club Songs chart with his debut single, "Pride".[18][19]

Bell died at his home in the United States Virgin Islands on September 9, 2020, at age 68.[20] No cause was given but the death was described as sudden.[21]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album
1969 Kool and the Gang
1972 Music Is the Message
Good Times
1973 Wild and Peaceful
1974 Light of Worlds
1975 Spirit of the Boogie
1976 Love & Understanding
Open Sesame
1977 The Force
1978 Everybody's Dancin'
1979 Ladies' Night
1980 Celebrate!
1981 Something Special
1982 As One
1983 In the Heart
1984 Emergency
1986 Forever
1989 Sweat
1992 Unite
1996 State of Affairs
2001 Gangland
2004 The Hits: Reloaded
2007 Still Kool
2013 Kool for the Holidays

Live albums[edit]

Year Album
1971 Live at the Sex Machine
Live at PJ's
1998 Greatest Hits Live
2002 Too Hot Live
2010 The Very Best-Live In Concert


Year Single
1969 "Kool and the Gang"
"The Gang's Back Again" (A-side)
"Kool's Back Again" (B-side)
1970 "Kool It (Here Comes The Fuzz)"
"Let the Music Take Your Mind"
"Funky Man"
1971 "Who's Gonna Take the Weight (Part One)"
"I Want to Take You Higher"
"N.T. Part I"
1972 "Love the Life You Live, Part I"
"Music Is the Message (Part 1)"
"Funky Granny"
"Good Times"
1973 "Country Junky"
"Funky Stuff"
"Jungle Boogie"
1974 "Hollywood Swinging"
"Higher Plane"
"Rhyme Tyme People"
1975 "Spirit of the Boogie" (A-side)
"Summer Madness" (B-side)
"Caribbean Festival"
1976 "Love and Understanding (Come Together)"
"Universal Sound"
"Open Sesame - Part 1"
1977 "Super Band"
1978 "Slick Superchick"
"A Place in Space"
"I Like Music"
"Everybody's Dancin'"
1979 "Ladies' Night"
"Too Hot"
1980 "Hangin' Out"
1981 "Take It to the Top"
"Jones vs. Jones"
"Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)"
"Steppin' Out"
"Get Down on It"
1982 "No Show"
"Big Fun"
"Let's Go Dancin' (Ooh La, La, La)"
"Hi De Hi, Hi De Ho"
1983 "Street Kids"
"Straight Ahead"
1984 "Tonight"
"(When You Say You Love Somebody) In the Heart"
1985 "Cherish"
1986 "Victory"
1987 "Stone Love"
"Special Way"
"Peace Maker"
1988 "Rags to Riches"
"Celebration" (remix)
1989 "Raindrops"
"Never Give Up"
1991 "Get Down on It" (remix)
1992 "(Jump Up on The) Rhythm and Ride"
1996 "Salute to the Ladies"
2003 "Ladies Night" (with Atomic Kitten)
2004 "Fresh" (with Liberty X)
"Too Hot" (with Lisa Stansfield)
"Get Down on It" (with Blue & Lil' Kim)
2005 "Hollywood Swinging" (with Jamiroquai)
"No Show" (featuring Blackstreet)
2006 "Steppin' into Love"
2010 "Miss Lead" (ft. Towanna)
2016 "Sexy (Where'd You Get Yours)"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bush, John. Biography of Kool & the Gang at AllMusic. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  2. ^ Freedman, Richard (February 21, 2019). "Bells haven't cracked after 52 years of 'Kool'". Vallejo Times Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Savage, Mark (September 10, 2020). "Ronald Bell: Kool & The Gang founder dies aged 68". BBC.com. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  4. ^ Ronald Bell at AllMusic. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  5. ^ Classical Music entry for Ronald Bell at AllMusic. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  6. ^ "Bobby Bell - BoxRec". Boxrec.com. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Kool & the Gang headline CelebrateErie on Saturday". Erie Times-News. August 13, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  8. ^ Norment, Lynn (November 1986). "Kool & The Gang: Hottest Group of the 80s". Ebony. Vol. 42, no. 1. pp. 70–76. ISSN 0012-9011. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  9. ^ "Robert "Kool" Bell: The Current Q & A". San Antonio Current. June 20, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  10. ^ Lynch, Joe (February 21, 2019). "Kool & the Gang Look Back on 50 Years of Funk". Billboard. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  11. ^ "Kool & the Gang celebrate (good times, come on!) Hollywood Walk of Fame star". Los Angeles Daily News. October 8, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Maile, Kelly (June 27, 2013). "Music Legends Kool and The Gang join Kid Rock tour, coming to Blossom Music Center". Record-Courier. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  13. ^ McFaul, Lauren. "Kool's gang freshens rock with funk", The Spokesman-Review, June 3, 1985. Retrieved October 25, 2015. "Ronald Bell has a studio in his West Orange, N.J., home and from there has worked on production for Kool & the Gang's last six albums."
  14. ^ "RONALD "KHALIS" BELL". SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  15. ^ Aidi, Hisham (December 9, 2014). "Did Coltrane say 'Allah Supreme'?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  16. ^ "J.T. TAYLOR – KOOL & THE GANG". Iconartistagency.com. Retrieved February 20, 2019. Ronald Five X is given the name Khalis (intelligent) by Imam Wallace D. Mohammed
  17. ^ Alexander, Bryan (September 9, 2020). "Ronald 'Khalis' Bell, Kool & the Gang co-founder and 'Celebration' songwriter, dies at 68". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Ganett Company. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  18. ^ Ratliff, Ben (December 14, 1998). "Not One More for the Road". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  19. ^ "Club Play". Billboard. Vol. 110, no. 23. June 6, 1998. p. 48. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  20. ^ Parker, Lyndsey (September 9, 2020). "Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald 'Khalis' Bell dead at 68". Yahoo! News. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  21. ^ "Ronald 'Khalis' Bell, Kool & the Gang Co-Founder, Dies at 68". Spin.com. September 9, 2020. Retrieved September 9, 2020.

External links[edit]