Co-founder of Kool and the Gang dies at 57

Lead guitarist and co-founder of the hit R&B group Kool and the Gang Claydes Charles Smith (57) died on Tuesday in Maplewood, N.J. after battling a long illness.

Smith and company originally formed the band in 1964 and perfected a mixture of jazz, R&B and funk. The band’s self-titled debut album came out in 1969, and broke into the mainstream audience in 1973 with ‘Wild and Peaceful’ thanks to hit singles like “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging.”

Smith was one of the band’s songwriters and penned hits like “Joanna” and “Take My Heart,” and was a co-writer “Hollywood Swinging” and “Jungle Boogie.”


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