Kool & the Gang offer a ‘Celebration’ to last throughout the years

Kool, second from right (on bass) and the Gang (everyone else in the photo) open up for Van Halen in a sold-out show Sunday, March 11, at the TD Garden.

Kool & the Gang are opening for Van Halen? This unlikely lineup sounds like the biggest tour on the planet … circa 1982. But make no mistake, this is a double-bill that is hardly past its prime, as many of the shows on the tour are sold out. Founding member and bassist Robert “Kool” Bell says that a group known for dancing the night away works well with a group known for jungle boogying.

How did this whole tour come about?
We’ve known [Van Halen singer David Lee Roth] for a year. What happened was that he saw us performing at the  Glastonbury show last August and we had about 60,000 people in front of our stage. … He saw us there and said, “I want you guys to open up for us.”

And had you crossed paths before? Both bands were on top of the world in the 1980s.

Well, that’s one of the things that he brought to my attention. They were hot in the ’80s, with “Jump” and some of their big records. They were the rock party band, and we were the pop-funk party band.
Though the ’80s were big for Kool & the Gang, you guys aren’t really defined by those years.
Kool & the Gang have been playing since ’64, and we’ve been dealing with changes every decade. But we’ve been blessed to make it through the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s and now the new millennium.

So when you’ve been playing “Celebration” for more than 30 years, how do you keep that
excitement going?

Well, the people keep us excited, because “Celebration” is a song that’s lasted throughout the years. … They give us the energy and we give it back to them. … Plus we know, of course when the hostages were returned from Iran, they played “Celebration.” Also, here’s one that happened two or three months ago — the astronauts woke up to “Celebration” on the last space shuttle mission, on the space station. … And then you’ve got so many Super Bowls and World Series and basketball championships.

Did you know when you guys were writing it that it would be that kind of song?

No, we didn’t. We felt good about it. What happened was another career change. We were coming out of the ’70s and we decided to get a lead singer who became James “J.T.” Taylor, and “Ladies Night” was our first big record that took us into the ’80s. So, we were at the American Music Awards. I think we won two awards that night, so my brother came up with this idea, “Hey, this is time to celebrate!” So when we got back to New Jersey, he came up with this groove called “Celebration.” And we all came together and started writing the song. That’s how it started… not knowing that this was going to be a celebration that so far has lasted throughout the years — 32 years now.

‘Kool & the Gang: The Musical’?

Bell says Kool & the Gang have been working with Ben Elton to bring a Broadway show to life by 2013.

“It’s about our lives,” he says, “kind of like ‘Jersey Boys.’”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…