Kool & The Gang Co-Founder Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas Dead At 70

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Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, the co-founder and saxophonist of Kool & the Gang, passed away on Saturday, August 7. He was 70.

According to a statement, the musician died “peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

“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 demeanor,” Kool & the Gang said. “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.”

The band added, “Dennis’ prologue featured on the groups 1971 hit, ‘Who’s Gonna Take the Weight’ is legendary and an example of his showmanship.”

Thomas was born on February 9, 1951, in Orlando, Florida. In 1964, he and his teenage friends, Ronald Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith, formed a band called Jazziacs. After several name changes, they settled on Kool & the Gang in 1969 and released their self-titled debut that same year.

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

Thomas is survived by his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas as well as several grand children.

(Photo: KTFA Entertainment, Inc.)

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