Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, died Saturday in his sleep, a spokesperson said. He was 70 and no cause of death has been determined.
“An original member of Kool & the Gang, Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanor,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “A huge personality while also an extremely private person, Dennis was the alto saxophone player, flutist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows.”
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Thomas was most prominently featured on Kool & the Gang’s 1971 hit, Who’s Gonna Take the Weight. His death follows that of fellow co-founder Ronald “Khalis” Bell, who died in Sept. 2020 at age 68.
Started in New Jersey by a group of neighborhood friends, Kool & The Gang was one of the major R&B groups of the 1970s, with such hits as Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swingers dominating radio. After a brief downturn, they returned strong in the 1980s with the monster hit Celebration.
Overall, Kool & The Gang earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. The group has had more than 20 top 10 R&B hits, nine top 10 pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums.
The group’s music has also been featured on numerous soundtracks, including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.
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