Kool & The Gang founder member Dennis Thomas has died aged 70.
Kool & The Gang shared a touching tribute to their band member following his rep confirming the sad news that Dennis passed away “peacefully in his sleep” on Saturday in New Jersey.
Dennis was the alto sax player, flutist, and percussionist of the group, and also served as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows.
Kool and the Gang – who released hits Celebration and Get Down On It, wrote on their official Facebook page: “On August 7,2021, Dennis Thomas (known as “Dee Tee”), beloved husband, father and a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 70 in New Jersey.”
The statement continued: “An original member of Kool & the Gang, Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanour.
“A huge personality while also an extremely private person, Dennis was the alto saxophone player, flutist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies at the band’s shows.”
They added: “Dee Tee was the group’s wardrobe stylist who made sure they always looked fresh.
“In the band’s early days, Dennis also served as the ‘budget hawk,’ carrying the group’s earnings in a paper bag in the bell of his horn.”
Fans have been paying tribute to the star on social media, with one tweeting: “Loved this group. RIP Dennis Thomas. Prayers and condolences to the family.”
Another said: “Thank you, Dennis Thomas, for the music that got us through.”
Thomas was one of the original founders of the group, which started in 1964 along with Robert “Kool” Bell, his brother Ronald – who died last year – and four other schoolfriends: Robert Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown and Ricky Westfield.
His last appearance with the group was on 4 July at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Kool & The Gang received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015 for their contribution to the world of entertainment, and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame in 2018.