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
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.