Photo: Joe Bielawa

Kool & The Gang Co-Founder Dennis Thomas Dead At 70

Kool & the Gang co-founder Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas has died. He was 70 years old.

In a statement, the ‘Get Down On It’ hitmakers applauded the late alto saxophonist, flutist, percussionist, and master of ceremonies, for his showmanship and unique style.

About the The Grammy-winning troupe’s co-founder who passed away “peacefully” in his sleep in New Jersey, his bandmates said: “An original member of Kool & the Gang, Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanor. A huge personality while also an extremely private person, Dennis was the alto saxophone player, flutist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows.”

“Dennis’ prologue featured on the group’s 1971 hit, ‘Who’s Gonna Take the Weight’ is legendary and an example of his showmanship. Dee Tee was the group’s wardrobe stylist who made sure they always looked fresh. In the band’s early days, Dennis also served as the ‘budget hawk’, carrying the group’s earnings in a paper bag in the bell of his horn.”

In 1964, along with friends Ronald and Robert Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith, Thomas co-founded the ‘Celebration’ group – who blend funk, soul, and jazz.

Previously named the Jazziacs until 1969 when they switched to Kool & the Gang, the legendary group was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015 and 80s’ classic ‘Celebration’ was inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry’s Class of 2020.

Dee Tee last played with the band on July 4 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and he is survived by his wife Phynjuar Saunders Thomas and his three children, Tuesday Rankin, David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

Keep up with the latest trending music news by following us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Author: Brad LeBeau

Photo: Joe Beilawa