Kool & the Gang founding member Dennis Thomas dies in his sleep

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Kool & the Gang founding member Dennis Thomas has died 'in his sleep' aged 70.

His rep confirmed the sad news that he passed away 'in his sleep' in New Jersey on Saturday.

The band's official Facebook page also posted a statement on the tragic news, which read: "On August 7,2021, Dennis Thomas (known as "Dee Tee"), beloved husband, father and a co-founder of Kool & the Gang, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 70 in New Jersey."

The band was responsible for iconic hits including Get Down On It and Ladies Night, cementing their place in pop music history.

The statement added: "He is predeceased by his mother Elizabeth Lee Thomas, his sister Darlene Thomas and his daughters, Michelle Thomas and Tracy Jackson.

"Michelle Thomas was an actress on The Cosby Show, Family Matters and The Young and the Restless and passed away in 1998.

"[Dennis] is survived by his wife Phynjuar Saunders Thomas; daughter, Tuesday Rankin; sons, David Thomas and Devin Thomas; Aunt Mary 'Duggie' Jones; sisters Doris Mai McClary and Elizabeth Thomas Ross; brother, Bill Mcleary; and a host of nieces, nephews and grandchildren."

Tributes have already been pouring in for the late star, with one commenting on Facebook: "So sorry to hear of 'Dee Tee's' passing. Kool & The Gang has always been a class act and one of my all-time favourite bands.

"My condolences go out to his family, his musical family and his legions of fans all over the world, myself included. Rest In Peace. Your job was well done."

Another penned: "RIP Mr. Thomas. Kool and the Gang music is part of my musical DNA. At 16 years old the DJ dropped the needle on the record Hollywood Swingin'. It made it a magical moment. RIP Mr. Thomas and to the family, God bless you."

"What a wonderful entertainer and incredibly nice man. Wishing his family and friends comfort at this time," another posted.

Dennis was known as the 'cool cat' of the band, with a flair for trendy clothes and hats – as well as his laidback attitude.

The multi-talented star was Kool & the Gang's alto saxophone player, flutist and percussionist, as well as master of ceremonies at their various gigs.

His farewell appearance came earlier this year at the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl on the 4th of July.

And in March this year, he helped to make music history as Kool & the Gang's iconic hit 'Celebration' was inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry, Class of 2020.

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