(CelebrityAccess) — Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, co-founder of the R&B group Kool & The Gang, died at his home in New Jersey. He was 70.
An obituary released by the band following his death said that Thomas “passed peacefully in his sleep” but did not provide additional details about his death.
A founding member of the band, Thomas, who was known for his flamboyant fashion sense, played alto saxophone player, flutist, percussionist for the band as well serving as master of ceremonies during shows.
In the band’s early years, he also oversaw the band’s finances, carrying the proceeds from performances in a paper bag which he stored in the bell of his instrument, the obituary said.
Thomas, along with brothers Ronald Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell, and friends, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith launched Kool & The Gang in 1964 as the Jazziacs. The group went through several incarnations before finally settling on their current name.
The group, with its signature blend of jazz, soul and funk, garnered two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums on the strength of hits such as “Celebration” and “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.”
Recently, Dennis was featured on “Kool TV,” a series of animated shorts about the band members’ childhoods and career.
His final appearance with the band came just last month when Kool & The Gang performed at the Hollywood Bowl on the 4th of July.
He is survived by his wife Phynjuar Saunders Thomas; daughter, Tuesday Rankin; sons, David Thomas and Devin Thomas; Aunt Mary “Duggie” Jones; sisters Doris Mai McClary and Elizabeth Thomas Ross; brother, Bill Mcleary; and a host of nieces, nephews and grandchildren.