Kool & the Gang are an American jazz, R&B, soul, funk and disco group, originally formed in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1964. They went through several musical phases during the course of their recording career, starting out with a purist jazz sound, then becoming practitioners of R&B and funk, progressing to a smooth pop-funk ensemble, and in the post-millennium creating music with a modern, electro-pop sound.
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; lead vocalist James "J.T." Taylor; George Brown on drums; Robert Mickens on trumpet; Dennis Thomas on alto saxophone; Claydes Charles Smith on guitar, and Rick Westfield on keyboards. The Bell brothers' father was an acquaintance of Thelonious Monk and the brothers were friends with Leon Thomas.
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 new record label 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 pop-funk.
The late 1970s saw a lull in Kool & the Gang's except for the album “Open Sesame” which yielded the title track "Open Sesame" which achieved some success in the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Then came new lead singer James "J.T." Taylor who joined the group — with 1979's “Ladies' Night.” Their #1 hit in 1980's "Celebration," from “Celebrate!,” co-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 pop hits, including "Fresh" and "Cherish." Their chart presence stopped after “Forever.”
In October 2010, Kool and the Gang signed with indie label Expat Records for the release of their electro-pop single "Miss Lead", the first ever Kool and the Gang song to feature a female vocalist.