Kool & the Gang
Kool & the Gang have become one of the most influential funk units to find success during the ’70s. They are also one of the most popular R&B groups of the ’80s and their signature song “Celebration” has played at virtually every wedding since 1980. Kool & the Gang are known for their enticing amalgam of soul, R&B and funk.
Kool & the Gang have always had soul and it’s long been a key ingredient of their mix. When the group first formed, it was called Jazziacs, but soon became known as the Soul Town Band when they began playing clubs in Greenwich Village. An odd mix-up by a club owner resulted in the group accidentally being called Kool & the Flames, which they didn’t hate. Kool decided to change the title to Kool & the Gang and then landed a contract with De-Lite Records. Three singles from their eponymous debut found the charts, and Kool & the Gang became a quick success on the R&B charts. Kool & the Gang released two live albums in 1971, Live at the Sex Machine and Live at P.J.’s.
Kool & the Gang were now on their way to superstardom. The band released studio albums in 1972 and 1973. Their sixth album, Wild and Peaceful, was the rocket to super stardom. “Funky Stuff” became their first Top 40 hit at the end of 1973. Then both “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging” reached the pop Top Ten.
Kool & the Gang also won a Grammy award for “Open Sesame,” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack
In 1979, Kool & the Gang added two new vocalists, Earl Toon, Jr. and, more importantly, James “J.T.” Taylor, who would become known as the face of Kool & The Gang. Kool & the Gang also began working with jazz producer/arranger Eumir Deodato, who produced their records from 1979 to 1982. Ladies Night became Kool & the Gangs biggest hit to date and the first of three consecutive platinum albums. It included the Top Ten singles “Too Hot” and “Ladies Night.” Celebrate! was released in 1980 and featured what would become Kool & the Gang’s only number one hit, “Celebration.” Kool & the Gang released several more hits in the years to come, including “Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It),” “Get Down on It” and “Big Fun.”
Kool & the Gang found success again in 1984 with “Joanna” and “Cherish,” and in 1985 with “Misled” and “Fresh.” Kool & the Gang’s had a string of seven gold and platinum records continued until 1986′s Forever, after which James “J.T.” Taylor amicably left the group for a solo career. In 2008, Kool & the Gang remain one of the most sampled bands of all time and a dynamite live act.