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Kool & the Gang’s Robert “Kool” Bell continuing the band’s legacy following tragic loss: “It’s kinda heavy losing my brother”

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After an amazing 57 years, Grammy winners Kool & the Gang are not allowing the recent passing of two of their founding members stop the band.

Ronald Bell, the primary composer and producer behind many of their iconic hits, including their global anthem “Celebration,” died September 9, 2020, at the age of 68, while saxophonist Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas passed away last month at age 70.

“It’s kinda heavy losing my brother last year, Dee Tee this year, and the whole COVID thing,” band leader Robert “Kool” Bell tells Grammy.com. “We’re trying to get through it and trying to move forward. Our dates are starting to come back.”

Kool & the Gang recently performed on a European mini-tour, and reopened the Hollywood Bowl with sold-out concerts on July 3 and 4.

The group released their first new album in eight years, Perfect Union, on Friday, inspired by President Joe Biden‘s campaign slogan of the same name.

Kool says Ronald was the driving force behind the project.

“My brother basically did most of the album and got us back into the studio before I lost him last year, but it’s good to be back out there,” he comments. “When Biden was running for president, he played ‘Celebration.’ When he won, ‘Celebration’ was one of the most-played songs around the world.”

Bell adds that his brother came up with the album’s first single, “Pursuit of Happiness,” which has a theme of peace and harmony.

“When Biden was making his speech for his nomination, he went into the Constitution and spoke about the pursuit of happiness and a perfect union,” Kool notes. “We have some dance stuff on the album, but this project is about pushing for world peace and people coming together.”

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