Dennis Thomas, one of the founders of Kool & the Gang, the 1970s/80s soul-funk band, is dead.

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The band, announcing his death Saturday, revealed that he “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

Thomas was one of the original founders of the group, which started in 1964 with Robert ‘Kool’ Bell, his brother Ronald, and four other schoolfriends: Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky Westfield.

Born in 1951, in Florida, Thomas was known for his prologue on the band’s 1971 hit ‘Who’s Gonna Take the Weight’.

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The 70-year-old, prior to his death, was the Kool & the Gang’s sax player, flutist, percussionist, and MC at shows.

His band became one of the era’s most popular and influential with hits such as ‘Celebration’ and ‘Get Down On It’.

Their music featured in several films including ‘Saturday Night Fever’ for which they got a Grammy in 1978.

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Kool & The Gang

The band has earned two Grammys in total and seven American Music Awards. They were honored in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kool & the Gang got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015 and was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame in 2018.

Thomas is survived by his wife Phynjuar Saunders, his daughter Tuesday Rankin, and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

Here’s a feel of the band’s music:

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