Music: Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, founding member of Kool and the Gang, is dead

The 70-year-old saxophonist last appeared with the group on July 4 in Los Angeles.

The funk music world is in mourning. Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, one of the co-founders of legendary band Kool and the Gang, famous for hits like “Celebration”, died on Saturday at the age of 70, the group said.

“On August 7, 2021, Dennis Thomas (known as” Dee Tee “), husband, beloved father and co-founder of Kool and the Gang, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 70 in New York. Jersey, “said the group, which had already lost one of its leaders, Ronald Bell last year, on its Facebook page.

“Original member of Kool and the Gang, Dennis was known as the epitome of the cool guy, appreciated for his trendy clothes and hats, and his laid back demeanor,” his partners pay homage to him.

“Alto saxophonist, flautist, percussionist”

“Alto saxophonist, flautist, percussionist” and “master of ceremonies during concerts”, he appeared for the last time with the group on July 4, during the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, they specify.

Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member of the long-running soul-funk band Kool & the Gang known for such hits as “Celebration” and “Get Down On It,” has died. He was 70.

He died peacefully in his sleep Saturday in New Jersey, where he was a resident of Montclair, according to a statement from his representative.

Thomas was the alto sax player, flutist and percussionist. He served as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows. His last appearance with the group was July Fourth at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Born Feb. 9, 1951, in Orlando, Fla., Thomas was known for his prologue on the band’s 1971 hit, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.” Known for his hip clothes and hats, he was also the group’s wardrobe stylist. In the early days, he served as their “budget hawk,” carrying their earnings in a paper bag stuffed into the bell of his horn, the statement said.

In 1964, seven teen friends created the group’s unique bland of jazz, soul and funk, at first calling themselves the Jazziacs. They went through several iterations before settling on Kool & the Gang in 1969. The group’s other founders are brothers Ronald and Robert Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith.

Ronald Bell died Sept. 9, 2020, at home in the U.S. Virgin Islands at age 68.

The band has earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. They were honored in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award. Their music is heavily sampled and featured on film sound tracks, including those for RockySaturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.

Among those Thomas is survived by are his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member and longtime fixture of the legendary R&B group Kool & the Gang, died Saturday in his sleep, according to a statement from the group. He was 70.

Thomas was a member of Kool & the Gang for its entire existence, from the band’s origins in the 1960s to its most recent efforts, appearing on every album including the forthcoming Perfect Union. His last performance with the group took place just last month, at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl on the 4th of July. Thomas primarily served as the band’s saxophonist, but played multiple roles — and multiple instruments — over his long tenure with the group.

“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 band said in a statement posted to Facebook. “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.”

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