Kool & the Gang Among Nominees for Rock Hall of Fame

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Kool & the Gang, the famed R&B pop band formed by two Youngstown natives, is among the 15 acts nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The full list, announced Saturday, also includes Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Cher, Dave Matthews Band, Eric B. & Rakim, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Jane’s Addiction, Lenny Kravitz, Oasis, Sinéad O’Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Sade and A Tribe Called Quest.

Inductees will be announced in late April. The induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland this fall with date and on-sale information to be announced.  

The ceremony will be streamed live on Disney+, with a special airing on ABC at a later date and available on Hulu the next day.

To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. Ten out of the 15 nominees are on the ballot for the first time: Kool & the Gang, Carey, Cher, Foreigner, Frampton, Kravitz, Oasis, O’Connor, Osbourne and Sade.  

The inductees will be selected by an international group of more than 1,000 artists, historians and members of the music industry. An artist’s musical impact and influence on other artists, length and depth of career and body of work and innovation and superiority in style and technique are taken into consideration.  

Although Kool & The Gang launched its career in New Jersey, the band’s founders spent much of their childhood in Youngstown.

Robert “Kool” Bell and his late younger brother, Ronald, lived with their family on Youngstown’s East Side in the 1950s. The family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1960, when Robert was 10 years old.

Robert started the band while still in high school in New Jersey in the mid-1960s. Since then, Kool & the Gang has released 34 albums, achieved worldwide fame as kings of party funk, and became one of the most sampled bands on the planet.

Ronald “Khalis” Bell died in 2020, and his fellow horn player and co-founding member, Dennis Thomas, died in 2021.

Drummer George “Funky” Brown, also a co-founder, still is an active member, along with Bell.

Segments of Kool & the Gang’s music has been sampled on recordings by stars such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill and Sean Combs. Kool’s music has also been featured on various film soundtracks, including “Rocky,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Kool & the Gang received a star on the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.

Last year, the band was named the inaugural star on the Youngstown Walk of Fame. Bell received the honor July 1 – the same day the band performed at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

Kool & the Gang released its first record in 1969.

The band has since sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, producing timeless hits like “Celebration,” “Too Hot,” “Fresh” and “Jungle Boogie.” It has earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums. 

The act released its most recent album, “People Just Want to Have Fun,” last summer.

The band’s current lineup includes original members Bell and Brown, and Robert “Spike” Mickens, Claydes “Charles” Smith, James “J.T.” Taylor, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas and Ricky Westfield.

Pictured at top: Robert “Kool” Bell is shown at an event at Covelli Centre last summer in which he was inducted into the Youngstown Walk of Fame.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.