*It’s a bittersweet month for Kool & the Gang founder and bassist Robert “Kool” Bell, also known by his Muslim name Muhammad Bayyan.
As the musician celebrates his 70th birthday today, October 8th, the date falls one month and one day after the death of his brother Ronald Bell, aka Khalis Bayyan.
Kool & the Gang signed their first record deal in 1970, but it wasn’t until their fourth album in 1973, “Wild and Peaceful,” that they found radio success with the singles “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.” The addition of singer James “J.T.” Taylor in 1978 brought even more fame with the albums “Ladies’ Night” in 1979, “Celebrate!” in 1980, and their highest selling album “Emergency,” which went double platinum in 1984. Their hit singles during this period included “Ladies’ Night,” “Too Hot,” the US number one “Celebration,” “Get Down on It,” “Joanna,” “Misled” and “Cherish.”
For the third episode of our new podcast Radioscope Raw, we’re giving you our unedited 1989 interview with Kool, which took place one year after James J.T. Taylor left the band to pursue a solo career. The then 39-year-old talked to one of our writers about the group’s new album “Sweat,” and the addition of new lead singers Sennie “Skip” Martin and Odeen May. Bell also spoke about the exit of J.T. Taylor, his brother Ronald, and original member Spike Mickens; and how their departures would affect the band’s sound going into a new decade.
The episode also features Lee Bailey’s October 2015 interview with Bell, where he reflects on the band’s 50th anniversary at the annual “Radio and Record industry Legends” event in Los Angeles.