Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, the driving force behind the renowned band ‘Kool & The Gang,’ spoke up about their eternal effect on music and society in a frank chat. The band’s mega-success in the 1970s and 1980s left an everlasting stamp on the business, and its influence can still be felt today.
With six decades in the industry and an average of 80 gigs each year, the band’s dedication to old school cool remains unbroken.
“Bell exhibited both worry and enthusiasm when questioned about his nervousness before concerts, responding, “Um, yes and no.” Bell’s passion to ‘Kool & The Gang’ is palpable as a founding member and bass guitarist.”
The band’s popular singles, such as “Celebration,” have become associated with happy events ranging from ball games to birthday celebrations, leaving a musical legacy.
“It’s AC in the house tonight,” Bell screamed during a recent Hard Rock Hotel concert, when the majority of the band members ascended the stage. The crowd’s enthusiasm propels their performances, defying any illusions of dwindling vitality.
While conceding that he may not dance as well as he used to, Bell delegated choreography to the youthful band members while focusing on the music.
The band’s influence goes beyond their own songs. ‘Kool & The Gang’ is one of the most sampled bands in history, with its sound appearing in over 1800 tracks and counting. Their songs have been woven into the fabric of hip-hop and R&B, from Snoop Dogg to Jay-Z.
Bell comments on the band’s link to hip-hop as the genre celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. “Anything can be hip-hop if you contextualize it correctly,” he said, emphasizing the genre’s universal appeal.
Notably, DJ Amir Questlove Thompson paid tribute to ‘Kool & The Gang’ by sampling their music solely for three hours, demonstrating the band’s huge impact.
Bell’s adventure started when he co-founded the band at the age of 14. They changed their name from the Jazzy Acts to the Soul Town Band before settling on ‘Kool & The Gang’ in 1969. The moniker ‘Cool’ was born out of a desire to blend in with the neighborhood’s naming customs, and it has stayed ever since.
Bell recognizes that difficulty is a part of life in an industry recognized for its difficulties. “You get some things that happen, and you wonder, wow, how does that happen?” he pondered. ‘Kool & The Gang’, on the other hand, persisted, winning Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Awards, and other honors.
Bell’s love of music remains uncontrolled even at the age of 73. The recent publication of their 34th studio album demonstrates their dedication to both invention and enjoyment. When asked whether he planned to retire, Bell said, “Everything has an expiration date, but I want to hang out until the spot.”
His unrelenting passion for what he does, as well as his commitment to sharing love and understanding, are what have fueled ‘Kool & The Gang’s’ long legacy.
‘Kool & The Gang’ remains as a monument to the power of music to unify generations in an ever-changing business. As long as there is love, both among fans and within the band members, their tunes will continue to provide the soundtrack to happy times all across the globe.