Singer and saxophonist of Kool & the Gang, Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell died on Wednesday morning in his US Virgin Islands home.
According to his publicist, Sujata Murthy, his wife, Tia Sinclair Bell, was with him when he passed.
The cause of death is unknown as the post-mortem has not been released to the public. Murthy stated the Bell family would like privacy during this time, claiming his funeral services would be held quietly.
Millions of fans were saddened by the news. Journalist Larry Flick tweeted, “He brilliantly guided the band through music’s ever-evolving trends and sounds, keeping them relevant at all times. He was also a sweetheart of a fella. I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with him.”
Bell grew up in Youngstown, Ohio to Muslim parents, Aminah Bayyan and Robert ‘Bobby’ Bell. He married Tia Sinclair Bell, a movie producer and director, in the early nineties. They have 10 children together, including famous R&B singer Rachid ‘Rasalus’ Bell.
Alongside his brother, Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, Khalis Bell gained fame during the seventies. The Bell brothers were the co-founders of Kool & the Gang, one of the most highly influential bands of its time. Kool & the Gang was one of the first in the music industry to fuse different musical genres.
The band fused jazz, R&B, pop, and funk in its stylistic forms. Consequently, both the Bell brothers created a breakthrough in the music industry, influencing generations of artists.
They, along with their fellow band members, Robert ‘Spike’ Mickens, Charles Smith, Dennis ‘D.T.’ Thomas, Ricky West, and George Brown, won two Grammys and seven AMAs.
Throughout his 50-year career, Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell sang, wrote, and performed on over 23 albums. He wrote several of the band’s biggest hits, including ‘Jungle Boogie’, ‘Ladies Night’, ‘Summer Madness’, and ‘Celebration’.
The band’s latest album came in 2013. Being Christmas-themed, it was called ‘Kool for the Holidays’.