RIP Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, second founding member of Kool & The Gang to die last year


Home Celebrity RIP Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, second founding member of Kool & The …

It is really sad and alarming. Dennis Dee Tee Thomas, one of the founders of Kool & the Gang, passed away in his sleep overnight. He was only 70 years old. Last September, Ronald Kool Bell, another founder, also passed away, at the age of 68. Kool & the Gang were one of the greatest R&B funk bands of all time. They stood out for their accessible pop with lots of hits. That’s a shame. Condolences to the Kool & the Gang family.

It is Dee Tee who launches “Hollywood Swinging”.
God protects you.

Here is the official obituary:

On August 7, 2021, Dennis Thomas (known as “Dee Tee”), beloved husband, father and co-founder of Kool & the Gang, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 70 in the New Jersey.

Dennis was born on February 9, 1951 in Orlando, Florida. He was married to Phynjuar Saunders Thomas and resided for a long time in Montclair, New Jersey.

An original member of Kool & the Gang, Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat of the group, loved for his trendy clothes and hats, and his laid back demeanor. A great personality while being an extremely private person, Dennis was the alto saxophonist, flautist, percussionist as well as master of ceremonies during the group’s performances. Dennis’ prologue featured on the band’s 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. At the start of the group, Dennis also served as the “budget hawk,” carrying the group’s earnings in a paper bag in the bell of his horn.

Dubbed “America’s Opening” by CNN, Kool & the Gang kicked off the 2021 Hollywood Bowl season in Los Angeles on the 4the July. Unfortunately, it was Dennis’ farewell appearance with the group.

In 1964, seven teenage friends got together, brothers Ronald Bell and Robert “Kool” Bell, and their friends Dennis Thomas, Spike Mickens, Ricky Westfield, George Brown and Charles Smith, created a unique musical mix of jazz, soul. and funk. First calling themselves the Jazziacs, the group went through various name changes before settling on their famous nickname. Kool & the Gang was officially launched in 1969 and is now true funk, soul, R&B and pop legends.

To date, the group has won two GRAMMY® Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B, nine Top Ten Pop and 31 gold and platinum albums. Plus, their rock-solid, jazzy funk arrangements made them the most sampled band of all time. Kool & the Gang’s music has also been featured on the soundtracks of countless films, including the classics. Rocky, Saturday night fever and pulp Fiction. From Nairobi to New York, Kool & the Gang continues to perform, longer than any R&B group in history.

In 2014, the group received a Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award; and in October 2015, they were honored to take their place as American musical icons with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They are also included in installations at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC and the Grammy Museum in Newark, NJ. On March 24, 2021, Kool & the Gang’s timeless hit “Celebration” was inducted into the Library of Congress National Recordings Register, Class of 2020.

Recently, Dennis was featured on “Kool TV,” a series of animated short films about the childhood and careers of the band members.

He is predeceased by his mother Elizabeth Lee Thomas, his sister Darlene Thomas and his daughters, Michelle Thomas and Tracy Jackson. Michelle Thomas was an actress in The Cosby Show, Family Matters and The Young and the Restless and died in 1998.

He is survived by his wife Phynjuar Saunders Thomas; daughter, Tuesday Rankin; sons, David Thomas and Devin Thomas; Aunt Mary “Duggie” Jones; sisters Doris Mai McClary and Elizabeth Thomas Ross; brother, Bill Mcleary; and a host of nieces, nephews and grandchildren.


Roger Friedman started his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years at Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid-1990s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and wrote for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, The New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the screenwriter and co-producer of “Only the Strong Survive”, a selection from the Cannes, Sundance and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.


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