(CelebrityAccess) — Ronald “Khalis” Bell, a singer, songwriter, and producer, best known as one of the founding members of the funk group Kool & the Gang, has died. He was 68.
According to the Associated Press, Bell died at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday. A cause of death was not provided.
A native of Ohio, Bell formed the group that would eventually become Kool & the Gang with his brother Robert “Kool” Bell and neighborhood friends Dennis “D.T.” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky West.
A self-taught musician, Bell was known for his distinctive addition to the band’s sound with the saxophone and synthesizer.
In addition to his role as a performer, Bell composed, arranged, produced some of the group’s most notable hits, including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” and “Jungle Boogie.”
In 1978, Bell along with the rest of the group won a Grammy for their contribution to the soundtrack of “Saturday Night Fever” and were inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
In 1972, while on the group’s first international tour, Bell converted to Islam and was given the name Khalis Muhammed Bayyan by Imam Wallace D. Mohammed.
According to the Associated Press, Bell is survived by his wife and 10 children.
Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that well-wishers make donations to support the Boys and Girls Club of America.