7th August, 2021
Dennis Thomas, a co-founder of the world famous Kool & the Gang band, is dead. He was 70.
His death was announced by his representative on Saturday.
He said Thomas died peacefully in his sleep Saturday in New Jersey, where he was a resident of Montclair.
The long running and famous band was known for a medley of funk and soul.
It also had to its credit evergreen hits such as “Celebration” and “Get Down On It.”
Thomas was the band’s alto sax player, flutist and percussionist.
He also served as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows.
His last appearance with the group was July Fourth at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Fox News reported.
He is survived by his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.
Born Feb. 9, 1951, in Orlando, Florida, Thomas was known for his prologue on the band’s 1971 hit, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.”
Known for his hip clothes and hats, he was also the group’s wardrobe stylist.
In the early days, he served as their “budget hawk,” carrying their earnings in a paper bag stuffed into the bell of his horn, the statement said.
In 1964, seven teen friends created the group’s unique blend of jazz, soul and funk, at first calling themselves the Jazziacs.
They went through several iterations before settling on Kool & the Gang in 1969.
The group’s other founders are brothers Ronald and Robert Bell, and Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith.
The band has earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards.
They were honored in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award.
Their music is heavily sampled and featured on film sound tracks, including those for “Rocky,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Pulp Fiction.”