People are talking about Kool and the Gang and their recent performance in LA as part of The WAVE’s Soulful Summer Concert Series. If you’re a fan, you already know how exciting their live performances are. While they were in LA, Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Khalis Bell stopped by with a copy of their new single “Sexy”, and told stories about growing up in the New York Tri-State area and establishing one of the most popular bands of all time.
Kool and Khalis told us the story behind “Hollywood Swingin.” It was dedicated to the late Frankie Crocker, the legendary New York DJ who also spent some time here in Los Angeles. Frankie’s nickname was Hollywood.
We listened to the new single “Sexy” which Kool says is a continuation of the vibe on “Ladies’ Night”. It was well received when they played it at the concert on Sunday along with all the big hits in the Kool and the Gang catalog. Their music is a family affair and unlike many groups, they have managed to stay together.
Overtime with Kool and the Gang
We talked about the evolution of the band. Khalis says he started listening to music when he was only five. Their Dad was a music lover who exposed his children to everything from straight ahead jazz to Motown and James Brown. Khalis always liked the saxophone because it was a challenge for him. He says he got serious about the band when Kool and the other guys did a gig in the Catskills and got paid. The two brothers told me about the early days and how they evolved into becoming the international super stars that they are today.
These guys need to write a book. They have lots of stories to tell about traveling on tour buses and taking donuts to program directors while trying to get their records played. What they like about life today is how technology has made some things easier. Khalis is the tech person but Kool could take it or leave it when it comes to social media.
Social media has helped to broaden their international audience. We also talked about how much material is now available on line for free and how this impacts the music industry and especially the artists who make music. After all this time, the members of Kool and the Gang are still having fun. They have traveled the world and have stories for every place they’ve been. They shared a memory of their recent trip to Cuba, where their father, who was a boxer, often competed.
I asked Kool and Khalis what was on their bucket lists. Kool says they’re working on a book and with all the stories they told me today, they certainly have plenty of material. Khalis says it would be great to do a documentary, a theatrical film and a Broadway show. It’s also high time they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I suggested a Las Vegas residency. They liked the idea. I like everything about Kool and the Gang.