Ronald “Khalis” Bell, famed singer and musician, died Wednesday at the age of 68.
Publicist Sujata Murthy confirmed his passing to Fox News. Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the cause of death has not been confirmed.
Bell had long been honing his craft, enjoying great musical success over the years. He started in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1964, drumming on paint cans along with his brother, Robert “Kool” Bell.
The two eventually moved from their hometown, added some inexpensive drums to their paint can lineup, and started playing in New York’s Greenwich Village.
They didn’t make much money or get much notice in those early days.
“We’d make about $5 in three weeks,” Khalis told Rolling Stone in 2015.
But they were determined, and they kept at it, going through a variety of names as they sharpened their skills, wrote songs, played with a few related styles, added members to their group and did a variety of local shows.
“Kool & the Gang” included five high school friends alongside the Bell brothers, and in 1973, their album “Wild and Peaceful” put them on the map.
As the years passed, the group racked up more and more hits. Khalis Bell co-wrote some of their best-known songs, including “Jungle Boogie,” “Celebration” and “Ladies Night,” according to Rolling Stone.
“I was reading scripture where the creator’s gonna create and made an announcement that he’s gonna create this human thing, to angels, and the angels were celebrating him for doing so, and that’s also where the idea came from,” Bell said.
“Three Dog Night had songs about ‘Celebrate’ but there was never a song about a cel-e-bra-tion. Everyone around the world, come on, there’s a celebration every second of our lives. Somewhere, someone is always celebrating something.”
The group has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and has 31 gold or platinum albums.
At the time of his death, Bell was still actively working on music and animated shorts. He may be gone, but his legacy will be remembered every time one of his songs is heard on a soundtrack, in an advertisement or at a wedding.
Bell is survived by his wife and 10 children.
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