Kool & The Gang’s Dennis Thomas latest – Daughter Michelle Thomas died of cancer 22 years before Dee Tee’s death

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KOOL & The Gang’s co-founder and saxophonist Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas has died at the age of 70.

It comes over twenty years after Thomas lost his daughter, actress Michelle Thomas, to cancer. She starred in the sitcom Family Matters.

The legendary band announced Dee Tee Thomas’ death on Saturday, August 7. The band said Thomas “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

No cause of death was given.

Alongside Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, Robert “Spike” Micken, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West, Thomas was among the co-founders of the Jazz group Kool & the Gang.

The New Jersey Jazz band was formed in 1964. Some of the band’s hits include Celebration, Get Down On It and Ladies’ Night.

Read our Dennis Thomas live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • ‘PASSED AWAY PEACEFULLY’

    The legendary band announced Thomas’ death on Saturday, August 7. The band said Thomas “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

    No cause of death was given.

    Alongside Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, Robert “Spike” Micken, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West, Thomas was among the co-founders of the Jazz group Kool & the Gang.

    The New Jersey Jazz band was formed in 1964. Some of the band’s hits include Celebration, Get Down On It and Ladies’ Night.

  • CAST OF ‘FAMILY MATTERS’ REMEMBERED LATE MICHELLE THOMAS

    Michelle Thomas, the daughter of Dennis Thomas, was remembered by her co-stars in a cast reunion.

  • WHAT WERE KOOL & THE GANG’S BEST SONGS?

    The group’s biggest songs include:

    • Celebration
    • Cherish
    • Jungle Boogie
    • Summer Madness
    • Get Down On It
    • Victory
    • Funky Stuff
    • Joanna
  • WHO WAS DENNIS THOMAS’ FAMILY?

    Thomas was married to Phynjuar Saunders Thomas.

    He is survived by his daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

    Thomas also had a daughter, Michelle, who starred in Family Matters. She died in 1998.

  • FEW OF THE BAND MEMBERS STILL ALIVE

    Thomas was one of three surviving members of the original Kool & The Gang.

    Only Ronald “Kool” Bell and drummer-keyboardist George Brown remain from the band’s 1964 formation.

  • THOMAS’ GREATEST HITS

    In a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, the Bell brothers credited Thomas playing an instrumental role in the band’s hit “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight.”

    “The intro to [that song] is Dennis,” Ronald “Khalis” Bell said.

    “At the time, we were all searching for spirituality and stuff like that, so DT is the one who came up with that announcement on the song.”

  • WHICH ALBUMS DID THOMAS PLAY ON?

    Thomas played on every one of Kool & The Gang’s albums up to their upcoming 25th studio album Perfect Union.

    His alto sax features on many of their hits like “Ladies Night,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Too Hot” and “Celebration”.

    Thomas also sang backing vocals as well as the occasional lead, like on Light of Worlds’ “Rhyme Tyme People.”

  • ‘RIP DENNIS THOMAS!’ FANS SAY

    Tributes to Dennis Thomas poured out Twitter.

    “RIP Dennis Thomas! I can’t thank you enough for the hours I spent as a 7 year old playing my parent’s Kool & The Gang’s Celebrate album over and over. I still love that album to this day,” one person wrote.

    “Man… Kool N The Gang just lost another founding member. Rest In Power, Dennis Thomas,” another said.

  • ‘KOOL & THE GANG’ BORN IN 1969

    Incorporating funk, soul as well as R&B influences, the Jazziacs became Kool & The Gang in 1969.

    They went on to release their eponymous debut album the same year.

  • WHAT WAS THE BAND ORIGINALLY CALLED?

    Back in 1964, New Jersey teenagers – brothers Ronald “Khalis” Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell and their friends “Dee Tee,” Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith – decided to form a band that was originally called the Jazziacs.

  • THOMAS MADE SURE THE BAND ‘ALWAYS LOOKED FRESH’

    “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.”

  • THOMAS HAD A ‘HUGE PERSONALITY’

    “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’s statement went on.

  • STATEMENT FROM THE BAND

    The band memorialized saxophonist Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas in a statement.

    “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,” the group said in a statement.

  • KOOL & THE GANG CO-FOUNDER DEAD

    Kool & The Gang’s co-founder and saxophonist Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas has died at the age of 70.

    The legendary funk outfit confirmed his death Saturday saying he “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

  • NEW YORK STATE FAIR PAID TRIBUTE TO THOMAS

    The Great New York State Fair Facebook page shared a tribute to Dennis Thomas on Saturday.

    “The Great New York State Fair mourns the loss of a great musician,” the post began.

    “Kool & The Gang co-founder Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas died in his sleep today at home in New Jersey, age 70. He and the band played the Fair three times, most recently in 2017.”

    “Dee Tee played sax, flute, and percussion and managed the band’s wardrobe,” the post noted.

  • FANS RESPOND TO DENNIS THOMAS’ DEATH

    “Kool & The Gang were the soundtrack to a lot of good moments in life,” one fan wrote.

  • ‘BELOVED HUSBAND AND DAD DEAD’

    Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, a co-founder of the legendary soul-funk band Kool and the Gang, died on Saturday at age 70, the group announced.

    Thomas, “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,” said a Facebook statement from the group.

    Another founding member, Ronald Bell, died last year.

    “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,” his bandmates wrote.

  • THOMAS PERFORMED WITH ELTON JOHN

    On June 30, 1984, Dennis Thomas performed on stage while supporting Elton John at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

  • NEW YORK STATE FAIR PAYS TRIBUTE TO THOMAS, WHO PERFORMED THERE

    The Great New York State Fair Facebook page shared a tribute to Dennis Thomas on Saturday.

    “The Great New York State Fair mourns the loss of a great musician,” the post began.

    “Kool & The Gang co-founder Dennis ‘Dee Tee’ Thomas died in his sleep today at home in New Jersey, age 70. He and the band played the Fair three times, most recently in 2017.”

    “Dee Tee played sax, flute, and percussion and managed the band’s wardrobe,” the post noted.

  • THOMAS MADE SURE THE BAND ‘ALWAYS LOOKED FRESH’

    “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,” a statement from the band read.

    “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.”

  • WHAT WERE KOOL & THE GANG’S BIGGEST HITS?

    The group’s biggest songs include:

    • Celebration
    • Ladies Night
    • Cherish
    • Jungle Boogie
    • Summer Madness
    • Get Down On It
    • Victory
    • Funky Stuff
    • Joanna
  • ‘PASSED AWAY PEACEFULLY’

    The legendary band announced Thomas’ death on Saturday, August 7. The band said Thomas “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in New Jersey.

    No cause of death was given.

    Alongside Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, Robert “Spike” Micken, Charles Smith, George Brown, and Ricky West, Thomas was among the co-founders of the Jazz group Kool & the Gang.

    The New Jersey Jazz band was formed in 1964. Some of the band’s hits include Celebration, Get Down On It and Ladies’ Night.

  • MUSIC FEATURED IN PULP FICTION & SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

    Kool & The Gang has earned two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards.

    They were honored in 2014 with a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Their music is heavily sampled and featured on film sound tracks, including those for Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.

    Among those Thomas is survived by are his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.

  • ‘NO AGE LIMIT ON COOL’

    In trademark shades and wide-collared open shirts, Kool & The Gang claimed in 2007 that there was no age limit to being cool.

    At the time the group was launching a new album, its first studio album in 10 years, called ‘Still Kool’.

    The group that formed in New Jersey in 1964 has gone through several musical phases over the years, ranging from jazz, to rhythm and blues and funk, to disco.

    Two of the four original band members, Robert “Kool” Bell, told Reuters: “Cool is fashion. Cool is what is happening and what is hip.

    “I think cool will be around when we are long gone. People who are 75 and 80 years old can still be cool, there is not limit to being cool.”

  • FANS’ TRIBUTES TO DENNIS THOMAS

    Air Force veteran Tommy Randolph is among scores of Kool & The Gang fans to pay tribute following the passing of Dennis Thomas.

    He tweeted: “Thanks for the memories. We were grateful to see him and the Gang, live in Tokyo back in the 80’s while we were stationed in Japan.

    “Too bad, we had to catch a train, back to base or we would have went up to the room to party with you guys.”

    Another fan tweeted: “I’m so sorry. May his memory be a blessing.”

    One comment read: “I am truly sorry to hear of the passing of Dennis. My heartfelt condolences,” while another fan tweeted, “so sorry to hear this. Our love from your Tampa fans!”

     

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