As a little kid, I can VIVIDLY remember being in the back seat of my Grandma’s 80s era Ford Thunderbird, when the calming sound of seagulls and waves came on the radio, and I immediately knew it was “Cherish” by Kool and the Gang.
What was it – even at the age of 6 or 7 – that drew me, and so many of us, into Kool & the Gang’s ability to capture the moment…and just… slay?
A couple things.
- They’re a band with two lives who wasn’t afraid to adapt their sound. The first incarnation of Kool & the Gang, founded in 1969, gave us hits like “Funky Stuff,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Hollywood Swinging.” Inventive, playful, and FUNKY, they had a niche who loved them. But as music evolved in the late ’70s into more melodic grooves, the band added James “JT” Taylor to sing lead, and it gave them a second life with “Celebration,” “Joanna,” “Cherish,” and more.
- They LOVED a soundtrack, even well after their release. “Summer Madness,” originally sampled in “Rocky” in 1976, got new life with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince sampled it in “Summertime.” That lead to another synch for the song in 2002’s “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” – and a whole new generation of fans.
- They weren’t afraid to take a chance on tour. In 2012, perhaps one of the greatest odd couple tours was announced, as Kool & The Gang agreed to open for Van Halen. It seemed like a complete mismatch. Yet somehow, the “odd couple” moment WORKED. They showed us, while they weren’t rocking as hard as Van Halen – they could still ROCK and tantalize the audience with some amazing music.
So whether you’re turning up a great K&TG love song…
…or something a little more FRESH…
…enjoy these songs again today, and remember that COOL is always best…when spelled with a K.