Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, co-founder and saxophonist for Kool & The Gang, has died. He was 70.
Thomas’ death was confirmed via a statement on the band’s social media channels. The statement reads, in part, “On August 7, 2021, 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.” An exact cause of death was not disclosed.
On August 7, 2021, 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. pic.twitter.com/Xp9W1TOIA9— Kool & the Gang (@KoolntheGngLIVE) August 7, 2021
In an extended statement on Thomas, it’s noted, “Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanor. 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. Dennis’ prologue featured on the group’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. 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’s final show with Kool & The Gang was when the band opened the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on July 4 for its 2021 season.
Among Kool & The Gang’s many accomplishments with Thomas are two Grammys, seven American Music Awards, the Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The band also boasts 31 gold and platinum albums 32 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart including their lone number one hit “Celebration” and 12 top-ten hits including “Cherish,” “Joanna,” “Ladies Night,” “Misled,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging” and “Get Down On It.”