Kool & the Gang co-founder Dennis Thomas dead at age 70

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NEW YORK — Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding subordinate of the long-running soul-funk set Kool & the Gang known for specified hits arsenic “Celebration” and “Get Down On It,” has died. He was 70.

He died peacefully successful his slumber Saturday successful New Jersey, wherever helium was a nonmigratory of Montclair, according to a connection from his representative.

Thomas was the alto sax player, flutist and percussionist. He served arsenic maestro of ceremonies astatine the band’s shows. His past quality with the radical was July Fourth astatine the Hollywood Bowl successful Los Angeles.

Born Feb. 9, 1951, successful Orlando, Florida, Thomas was known for his prologue connected the band’s 1971 hit, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.” Known for his hep apparel and hats, helium was besides the group’s wardrobe stylist. In the aboriginal days, helium served arsenic their “budget hawk,” carrying their net successful a insubstantial container stuffed into the doorbell of his horn, the connection said.

In 1964, 7 teen friends created the group’s unsocial bland of jazz, psyche and funk, astatine archetypal calling themselves the Jazziacs. They went done respective iterations earlier settling connected Kool & the Gang successful 1969. The group’s different founders are brothers Ronald and Robert Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith.

Ronald Bell died Sept. 9, 2020, astatine location successful the U.S. Virgin Islands astatine property 68.

The set has earned 2 Grammy Awards and 7 American Music Awards. They were honored successful 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award. Their euphony is heavy sampled and featured connected movie dependable tracks, including those for “Rocky,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.”

Among those Thomas is survived by are his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, girl Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

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