Kool & the Gang
Writer(s): Robert "Kool" Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown, Robert Mickens, Claydes Smith, James "J.T." Taylor, Dennis "D.T." Thomas, Earl Eugene Toon Jr., Eumir Deodato (see lyrics here)
First Charted: Octrober 18, 1980
Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 7 RR, 34 AC, 16 RB, 7 UK, 13 CN, 33 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.25 UK, 2.5 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 221.0 video, 259.43 streaming
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About the Song:
Kool & the Gang’s origins date back to 1964 when Robert “Kool” Bell formed the Jazziacs at 14 years old. As they changed their sound from jazz to R&B, their following grew. They eventually became Kool & the Gang in 1969 and released more than 25 singles with De-Lite Records. When disco emerged, “Kool knew it was time to produce a new sound – or perish.” FB They brought James “J.T.” Taylor on board and he made his first appearance as their lead singer for the 1979 album Ladies Night, which produced top-10 hits with the title cut and “Too Hot.”
The group’s next album, Celebrate, produced the single “Celebration,” which gave them their fifth R&B chart-topper and first #1 pop hit in 1981. That year, it was used to welcome home the American hostages after 444 days in captivity in Iran and it was the theme song for the Super Bowl. FB
Ronald Bell, the group’s saxophonist, arranger, and co-founder, said, “The initial idea came from the Quran. I was reading the passage where God was creating Adam and the angels were celebrating and singing praises. That inspired me to write the basic chords, the line, ‘Everyone around the world, come on, celebration.’” WK
The song has since become a stape at weddings and parties and an athem for sporting events because of its generic, celebratory nature. Taylor told Billboard, “My mother told me me when she heard it, ‘You’re gonna play this song for the rest of your life – so get ready!” SF
First posted 6/24/2021; last updated 10/28/2022.