Kool & The Gang

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Bios: Kool & The Gang & James "J.T." Taylor
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Members
Robert "Kool" Bell (Born October 8, 1950 in Youngstown, OH)
Ronald Bell (A.K.A. Khalis Bayyan) (Born November 1, 1951 in Youngstown, OH)
George Brown (Born January 5, 1949)
Robert Mickens
Dennis Thomas
Clifford Adams
James "J.T." Taylor (Member 1979-1988 & 1995-Current) (Born August 16, 1953 in Laurens, SC)
Rick Westfield (deceased)
Claydes Charles Smith (Born September 6, 1948 in Jersey City, NJ - Died June 20, 2006 in Maplewood, NJ (AIDS))
Sennie "Skip" Martin
Shawn McQuiller
Rodney Ellis
Earl Toon, Jr. (Joined in 1979)
Odeen Mays
Gary Brown

Albums
Kool & The Gang - Celebration: The Best Of Kool & The Gang 1979-1987
Kool & The Gang - The Hits Reloaded (Import)

Also Featured On...
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (J.T. Taylor)
Coolio - Fantastic Voyage: Greatest Hits (J.T. Taylor)
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Millennium Funk Party
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Saturday Night Fever
VH1 8-Track Flashback: Classic '70s Soul

Bio From AllMusic.Com
Formed as a jazz ensemble in the mid-'60s, Kool & the Gang became one of the most inspired and influential funk units during the '70s, and one of the most popular R&B groups of the '80s after their breakout hit "Celebration" in 1979. Just as funky as James Brown or Parliament (and sampled almost as frequently), Kool & the Gang relied on their jazz backgrounds and long friendship to form a tightly knit group with the interplay and improvisation of a jazz outfit, plus the energy and spark of a band with equal ties to soul, R&B and funk.

Robert "Kool" Bell and his brother Ronald (or Khalis Bayyan) grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and picked up the music bug from their father. A professional boxer, he was also a serious jazz lover and a close friend of Thelonious Monk. With Robert on bass and Ronald picking up an array of horns, the duo formed the Jazziacs in 1964 with several neighborhood friends: trombone player Clifford Adams, guitarists Charles Smith and Woody Sparrow, trumpeter Robert "Spike" Michens, alto saxophonist Dennis Thomas, keyboard player Ricky West and drummer Funky George Brown (all of whom, except Michens and West, still remained in the group more than 30 years later).

The growing earthiness of soul inspired the Jazziacs to temper their jazz sensibilites with rhythms more akin to R&B, and the newly renamed Soul Town Band began playing clubs in Greenwich Village. After a mix-up with a club owner resulted in the group being billed Kool & the Flames, they moderated the title to Kool & the Gang and found a leg up with the tiny De-Lite Records. Three singles from their self-titled debut album hit the pop charts, and although the position wasn't incredibly high, Kool & the Gang became a quick success on the R&B charts. Always a staple of their appeal, the group's live act was documented on two 1971 LPs, Live at the Sex Machine and Live at P.J.'s, including left-field covers of "Walk on By" and "Wichita Lineman" (as well as the not so unusual "I Want to Take You Higher").

Studio albums followed in 1972 and 1973, but it was with Kool & the Gang's sixth LP, Wild and Peaceful, that they hit the big time. "Funky Stuff" became their first Top 40 hit at the end of 1973. Then both "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swinging" reached the pop Top Ten. During the next four years, however, Kool & the Gang could only manage an occasional Top 40 hit ("Higher Plane," "Spirit of the Boogie"), and though they did win a Grammy award for "Open Sesame" (from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), the rise of disco a movement centered around producers and vocalists, in direct contrast to the group's focus on instrumentalists had appeared to end their popularity.

Then, in 1979, the group added two new vocalists, Earl Toon, Jr. and, more importantly, James "J.T." Taylor, a former Jersey nightclub singer. Kool & the Gang also began working with jazz fusion arranger Eumir Deodato, who produced their records from 1979 to 1982. The first such album, Ladies Night, was their biggest hit yet, the first of three consecutive platinum albums, with the Top Ten singles "Too Hot" and the title track. Celebrate!, released in 1980, spawned Kool & the Gang's only number one hit, "Celebration," an anthem favored by innumerable wedding receptions since. With Deodato, the group produced several more hits, including the singles "Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It)," "Get Down on It" and "Big Fun," and the albums Something Special in 1981 and As One a year later. After Deodato left the fold in late 1982, Kool & the Gang proved their success wasn't solely due to him; they had two immense hits during 1984-85 ("Joanna" and "Cherish"), as well as two more Top Tens, "Misled" and "Fresh." The group's string of seven gold or platinum records continued until 1986's Forever, after which James "J.T." Taylor amicably left the group for a solo career.

Although Taylor did reasonably well with his solo recordings (many of which were produced by Ronald Bell), Kool & the Gang quickly sank without him. They replaced Taylor with three vocalists, Skip Martin (formerly of the Dazz Band), Odeen Mays and Gary Brown, but failed to chart their albums Sweat (1989) and Unite (1993). Taylor finally returned to the group in 1995 for the release of a new album, State of Affairs. They continued well throughout the 2000s, releasing 2001's Gangland, 2004's The Hits: Reloaded, and 2007's Still Kool (recorded after the 2006 death of co-founder Charles Smith). They often collaborated with new and well-known younger talent. John Bush

James "J.T." Taylor's Bio From AllMusic.Com
The lead singer for Kool & the Gang from 1979 to 1988, James "J.T." Taylor presided over the group's commercial if not artistic peak of the early to mid-'80s, later moving on to a solo career. Born August 16, 1953, Taylor joined Kool & the Gang at a point when the pioneering funk band was beginning to lose steam amidst the rise of disco. Five years after their last hit, the group enlisted both producer Eumir Deodato and Taylor and re-entered the Top Ten in 1979 with the decidedly disco-slanted "Ladies Night," a track which topped the R&B charts. The following year, Kool & the Gang delivered its first number one hit on the pop charts, "Celebration." Although Top Ten placements were frequent from 1982 through 1987, Taylor left the band for a solo career in 1988, thanks in large part to the success. (One monument to his impact with Kool & the Gang is that the group recruited three people to replace him Skip Martin, Gary Brown, and Odeen Mays.)

After signing to Epic Records in 1988, Taylor found a hit on his first at-bat: a duet with Regina Belle called "All I Want Is Forever." The theme song to the Gregory Hines film Tap, it reached number two on the R&B charts, but was unable to cross over to the pop charts. Taylor recorded three albums for MCA during the early '90s, failing to trump the success of "All I Want Is Forever," though "Long Hot Summer Night" made it to the R&B Top 20 in 1991. After a lengthy hiatus, he resurfaced in mid-2000 with Brand New Me. John Bush

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