With a disco ball hung over the stage ready to shine, The H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center hosted a performance by the jazz and funk band Kool & The Gang on March 31. Before the show, the drummer warmed up while someone yelled, “Knock ‘em dead.”
Robert “Kool” Bell, the band’s leader and bassist was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He later moved to New Jersey, where he became part of the band that would eventually become Kool & The Gang.
With more than 50 years of music under his belt, one may wonder why Bell continues making music.
“The people. The fans. We enjoy writing music that pleases our audience,” Bell said. “They’ve taken us around the world, which has given us a lot of education.”
Perhaps Bell would have been a mechanic had things worked out differently. When he was 2 years old, Bell’s mechanic grandfather had him under the hood of a vehicle. At age 8, Bell managed to create a form of lawnmower bicycle.
The band received several awards, including a Grammy Award, a street named after them in their home state and a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, which Bell said was his favorite award.
In addition, Kool & The Gang has also been featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with the bass guitar that Bell played for the recording of songs such as “Ladies Night,” “Two Hot” and the “Something Special” album.
With lights shining, the band emerged wearing sparkling shirts of various colors and began bringing energy and good times to the audience.
After opening with “Fresh,” the band continued to play more than a dozen songs as the night progressed. The band offered to take the audience back to the ’70s, and during the performance of the song “Ladies night,” they called for all the female members of the audience to come forward in front of the stage.
More than an hour after starting, they closed with the well-known song “Celebration.” With music that spans across multiple generations, more than 70 million albums sold across the world and an upcoming movie called “Hollywood Swinger: The Kool & The Gang Story,” Kool & The Gang continues to bring good times and laughter to people all across the country.