Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, died Saturday in his sleep, a spokesperson said. He was 70 and no cause of death has been determined.
“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Thomas was most prominently featured on Kool & the Gang’s 1971 hit, Who’s Gonna Take the Weight. His death follows that of fellow co-founder Ronald “Khalis” Bell, who died in September at age 68.
Started in New Jersey by a group of neighborhood friends, Kool & The Gang was one of the major R&B groups of the 1970s, with such hits as Jungle Boogie and Hollywood Swingers dominating radio. After a brief downturn, they returned strong in the 1980s with the monster hit Celebration.
Overall, Kool & The Gang earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. The group has had more than 20 top 10 R&B hits, nine top 10 pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums.
The group’s music has also been featured on numerous soundtracks, including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.
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