Success is the only option when you’re part of a group that is iconic as Kool & The Gang.

When they first set out in the late 1960s, the legendary band presented itself as a jazz group before evolving into funk and transitioning into disco. Drummer and founding member, George Brown, says that Kool & Gang’s inception began with a trip to the candy store.

Where It All Started

“I was going into Mr. Green’s candy store to get some gum drops,” he told AfroTech. “And he said, ‘Hey, you wouldn’t be a drummer would you?’ That’s the short version of how we became a jazz group (chuckles).”

From there, the rest was history and founding members included brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell as well as Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Robert “Spike” Mickens, Charles Smith, Ricky West, and of course George Brown.

The Most Sampled Band In America

What’s more, Kool & The Gang’s disco, funk, and pop songs have been sampled more than 1,800 times — an honor that Brown says he does not take lightly.


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“I’m very, very honored by colleagues, wherever they may be, when they start sampling. We are the No. 1 sampled band and because of my beats, I’m the No. 1 sampled drummer and, you know, I didn’t even realize that until interviewers started coming by and saying that. I don’t… my mind doesn’t think like that,” Brown recalled.

He continued, “What it taught us is that you know, you look at all the great Jazz musicians and you look at all the great classical music… you look at musicians, period. And you look at film, also video, feature films and you can see the synergy and then the same thing with music. You see people take a little snippet, a little byte from each of the artists they felt was great.”

Taking Over Television & Film

Beyond just being sampled by fellow artists like Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Ice Cube and a slew of others, Kool & The Gang have also had tracks that have been featured in cult-classics like “Pulp Fiction,” “Legally Blonde,” and more.

“Whenever folks want to use an individual’s sound for another work of art, they have to call for a license,” Brown explained. “Folks will then coordinate and call for a license, then there’s a great scene for the opening thing, and bingo, you’ve got ‘Pulp Fiction.’ You got ‘Summer Madness’ in the first Rocky movie, where there’s this little loop in ‘Summer Madness,’ and it’s very forward.”

He added: “And then, of course, you got Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, which is ‘Summertime.’ And then Marvin Gaye and what we gave the great Miles Davis was the Du-Wop song, which was also ‘Summer Madness.'”

Today, with streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and others, Brown says business is still booming for Kool & The Gang thanks to shows they’ve previously licensed music for being added.

He even let us in on a tidbit from the music that was provided by the band for the hit HBO Series “The Wire.”

“When ‘The Wire’ was major, we had songs in the show that they would play at certain points every episode because it meant a certain deal was going down. It’s extraordinary,” said Brown. “Before we got the TV royalties, we earned money from the DVD and Blu-Ray sales.”

Although, they have been around for quite some time, making music never gets old for Brown and his crew.

In fact, Kool & The Gang’s love for music continues with their upcoming album, “People Just Wanna Have Fun.” The new project is set to drop on July 14, 2023.

The album is one that is sentimental as it features some of the last studio work from late members Ronald “Khalis” Bell and Dennis “D.T.” Thomas who passed in 2020 and 2021.