Since its formation in 1964, soul/funk group Kool & the Gang has sold over 70 million records worldwide, scored numerous top ten hits, won the GRAMMY award for Best Album in 1978, and just this year were named 2015 recipients for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Now, Kool and the Gang are gearing up for two big shows at The Hollywood Bowl with the “Empress of Soul” herself, Gladys Knight, and there will be plenty of ‘celebration’ at The Bowl. Robert “Kool” Bell, one of the founders/bassist of the group, called in to The K-EARTH 101 Morning Show to talk about their illustrious career and what to expect at the show.
“We’re celebrating fifty years this year,” Robert told Gary and Lisa. And if that isn’t enough cause for celebration, we don’t know what is!
Speaking of “Celebration,” the only No.1 Hot 100 hit from Kool & the Gang, Robert told us the song is a gift that keeps on giving.
“That song just kind of happened by itself and we just leave it alone, and we’re happy it did happen,” said Robert, who explained the origin of how the song came about.
“We were out in L.A. at the American Music Awards and we had won two awards that night for ‘Ladies Night’ and we were celebrating, ” he said. “My brother [Ronald Bell] had this idea and said ‘I have this song called Celebrate’ and it was from the tag of ‘Ladies Night.’
As for how they came up with the group’s name, Robert explained that “Kool” was his nickname he grew up with and adopted when he moved from the small town of Youngstown, Ohio to the big city of New Jersey.
With dozens of funky hits under their belt, it’s no surprise that many artists have sample the smooth grooves of Kool and the Gang in their songs. Their music has been sampled by artists including De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, NWA, Nas, Kriss Kross, Jermaine DuPri, P. Diddy among others. But for Robert, there’s one artist sample he calls his favorite.
“I have to say Mr. Will Smith with ‘Summer Madness’ – ‘Summertime’ became such a big record for him, as a matter of fact, he won a Grammy with that record. That would be one of the all time [favorites], Will Smith, ‘Summertime,'” he said.
Gearing up for two nights at The Hollywood Bowl this weekend, it’s going to be a stellar evening with two legendary acts. Robert himself is thrilled to be on the same bill as the one and only Gladys Knight.
“Gladys is definitely one of the best. We worked with Gladys in the early ’80s, we did a lot of shows with Gladys,” he said. “She’s just phenomenal, she’s a phenomenal singer, and we love working with her.”
‘Get Down’ with Kool and the Gang and Ms. Gladys Knight this Friday and Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl. For tickets and information, visit www.hollywoodbowl.com.
Listen to our complete interview with Robert “Kool” Bell in the clip below.