Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas Dies: Kool & the Gang Co-Founder Was 70

Dennis Thomas known as "Dee Tee" of Kool & The Gang has died at age 70. (Credit: Instagram)

Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a founding member of iconic soul and funk group Kool & the Gang, has died. He was 70.

A statement posted to the band’s Instagram page said he passed away on Aug. 7. No cause was given.

“Dennis Thomas (known as “Dee Tee”), beloved husband, father and a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 70 in New Jersey,” the statement said.

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Thomas was born on Feb. 9, 1951, in Orlando, Florida. He founded Kool & the Gang in 1964 along with brothers Robert “Kool” and Ronald “Khalis” Bell, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West.

Thomas was the group’s alto saxophonist, flutist, percussionist, and master of ceremonies at shows. He also served as the band’s wardrobe stylist. When they were just starting out, he acted as the “budget hawk,” carrying the group’s earnings in a paper bag in the bell of his horn.

Thomas recently performed with Kool & the Gang at a Fourth of July concert at the famed Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The group kicked off the arena’s 2021 season. This would be his final show with Kool & the Gang.

Over the years, Kool & the Gang had 24 studio albums, won two Grammys, and released a string of hits including “Ladies’ Night,” “Celebration,” “Get Down On It,” “Fresh” and “Too Hot.”

Kool & the Gang’s 1980 recording “Celebration” was inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording registry as part of the Class of 2020.