Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, the master of ceremonies for the legendary Kool & the Gang, has died, according to a statement shared on Facebook by the band. He was 70.
According to the post, Thomas died peacefully in his sleep Saturday (Aug. 7) in New Jersey. Thomas was a founding member of Kool & the Gang when the group formed in 1964. He played the flute, served as a percussionist for the band at times but mostly was the band’s alto saxophone player.
Although the iconic funk group has added several new members and replaced others over the years, the original Kool & the Gang was composed of seven members: Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Ricky West, Charles Smith, George Brown and Thomas.
Dee Tee was born on Feb. 9, 1951 in Orlando, Florida. He met most of his band mates in high school in Jersey City, New Jersey. Initially, the gang called themselves the Jazziacs. For nearly five years, the band underwent several name changes before they decided on Kool — which was Robert Bell’s nickname — & the gang. Kool & the Gang released their first of 23 studio albums in 1969. The self-titled debut reached No. 43 on the Billboard R&B album chart. It featured the singles “Kool and the Gang” and “Let The Music Take Your Mind.” Thomas would go on to appear on every single album the group has released to date. The band has received two Grammy Awards, a handful of American Music Awards, the Soul Train Legend Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Thomas was around for it all.
According to Kool & the Gang’s Facebook statement, “Dennis was known as the quintessential cool cat in the group, loved for his hip clothes and hats, and his laid-back demeanor. [He was] a huge personality while also an extremely private person. 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.”
His last appearance with the band took place at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on the 4th of July. At the time, Thomas was one of three surviving members of the original Kool & The Gang; Ronald “Kool” Bell and keyboardist George Brown are the two remaining members left.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Phynjuar Saunders Thomas, daughter Tuesday Rankin and sons David Thomas and Devin Thomas.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.
“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.
On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.
The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.
After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.
Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University
On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.
In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!
Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'
Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.
On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!
Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'
On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!
Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'
On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.
For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!
REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.
The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.
This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.