Dennis Thomas, one of the founding members of Kool And The Gang, has died. He was 70.
According to a statement from his representative, Thomas died peacefully in his sleep today (August 7) at his home in Montclair, in New Jersey.
Thomas, also known as ‘Dee Tee’ was the group’s alto sax player, flutist and percussionist. He also served as master of ceremonies at the group’s shows.
His last appearance with the group was on July 4 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
A post on the group’s Facebook page today read: “Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanour.”
STATEMENT OF PASSING OF DENNIS THOMAS/KOOL & THE GANG On August 7,2021, Dennis Thomas (known as “Dee Tee”), beloved…
Posted by Kool & the Gang on Saturday, August 7, 2021
It continued: “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. Dennis’ prologue featured on the groups 1971 hit, ‘Who’s Gonna Take the Weight’ is legendary and an example of his showmanship.”
“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.”
You can see some further tributes to Thomas here:
🙏🏾 RIP to Dennis Thomas, a founding member of the legendary music group, Kool & the Gang, a real favorite. I’m thinking about the other surviving members tonight. pic.twitter.com/XdG5LUnDkt
— Jermaine (@JermaineWatkins) August 8, 2021
Dennis "Dee Tee" Thomas, one of the founding members of the legendary R&B band Kool & The Gang, has died at the age of 70. https://t.co/EnpMV8X1gR
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 7, 2021
This is very sad news. Most people love a bit of Kool & the Gang.
May Dennis RIP 🙏❤️https://t.co/nAr4bgCcip
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) August 7, 2021
Born on February 9 1951, in Orlando, Florida, he formed the group in 1964, with six friends who combined jazz, soul and funk. The group’s other founders were Ronald and Robert Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith.
They were called the Jazziacs in the earliest days and went through several different incarnations before settling on the name ‘Kool And The Gang’ in 1969.
Throughout their career, the group earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. They were also honoured in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award.
The group’s music is heavily sampled on several iconic film sound tracks, including Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.