StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-Nbj7DbWp5J.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.thugradio.net’, ‘Formed as a jazz ensemble in the mid-60s, Kool & the Gang became one of the most inspired and influential funk units during the 70s, and one of the most popular R&B groups of the 80s after their breakout hit Celebration in 1979. ‘);
Last week, music legend Ron Isley suffered a stroke while in London with other members of the Isley Brothers and his wife. Unfortunately, while the stroke was minor, Isley is unable to perform at this time, and the group has been forced to cancel their performances including their show at the 2004 On The Waterfront.
On The Waterfront Festival, presented by Associated Bank, is pleased to welcome Kool & The Gang to the Miller Lite Great Lawn, presented by the New Hot 105.9 on Sunday, Sept. 5. Reserved seat tickets are on sale now at the MetroCentre Box Office, by phone at 968-5222, or on the Web at www.centreevents.com. For one week only, Aug. 23-28, reserved seat tickets will be two tickets for $15! What a steal, only $15 for two people to attend the ultimate Celebration with one of the greatest bands of all time! Take advantage of it now, because on Sunday, Aug. 29, reserved seat tickets will go to $22.50 each. Tickets will be sold at the gate for $28.50 each. Your Festival admission button will get you into the general admission area only, and the gates will open at 6 p.m. Refunds for the Isley Brothers tickets will only be issued at the MetroCentre Box Office, 300 Elm St., in downtown Rockford. Reserved seat tickets must be purchased for Kool & The Gang; no Isley Brothers tickets will be honored.
In 1964, seven guys from Jersy City teamed up to start the band The Jazziacs. The group was greatly influenced by such artists as Miles Davis and James Brown and produced a style of music that combined jazz, soul and street funk. They performed throughout New York alongside such rising stars as Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. While the group was traveling around and developing a fan base, they decided they needed a name that better represented their sound. They finally settled on Kool & The Gang, the Kool taken from one of the band members known as Robert Kool Bell.
In 1969, Kool & The Gang released their first self-titled album. The groups first two Billboard R & B singles came from this album, Kool and the Gang and Let The Music Take Your Mind. Their second album, Live at the Sex Machine, climbed the Billboard R & B charts and landed at No. 6.
Over the next three years, the group released four more albums, but their big break came in 1973 with the release of Wild and Peaceful. This album was the groups first album to hit certified gold status and hit No. 6 on the R &/B Billboard charts and No. 33 on the pop charts. The album produced three of the most well-known party singles including Jungle Boogie, Funky Stuff and Hollywood Swinging.
In 1974, Kool & The Gang landed their single Summer Madness on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack to the hit movie Rocky. While everything was going well for the group, keyboard player Ricky Westerfield left the group to start his own group. The group remained friends with Westerfield, but the original seven were no more.
In 1976, Kool & The Gang won their second Grammy Award for the single Open Sesame, which was featured on the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time, Saturday Night Fever. But as the 70s came to an end, the grouop realized that disco was dying, and to keep up in the music industry, they would need to change their music to fit into the changing times.
In 1979, the group re-emerged with a brand-new sound and produced its first platinum album, Ladies Night. The title track was at No. 1 for three consecutive weeks on R & B charts and went all the way to No. 8 on the pop charts. In 1980, Kool & The Gang released Celebrate, which eventually became a double platinum-selling album. The groups single Celebration is known around the world and became the theme song for such memorable occasions as the return of the American hostages from Iran.
Over the next 10 years, Kool & The Gang released six more albums, many of which were multi-platinum albums. In 1986, another of the original members, Spike Mickens, left the group due to poor health.
Last month, the group released their 24th album, Odyssey. It is a collection of some of the groups greatest hits and includes some of todays hottest artists including Lil Kim, Sean Paul, Ashanti and Blackstreet.
Kool & The Gang are truly pioneers of pop and R & B music. Join them and be a part of the Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 5 at On the Wataerfront.