Summer 2022

JUN 3 | Kool & the Gang

JUN 3 | 7:30 PM

It’s a celebration! Kool & the Gang bring their biggest hits—including “Celebration,” “Cherish,” and “Jungle Boogie”—to Wolf Trap for a night full of feel good fun! They are joined by funk and soul stalwarts Morris Day & the Time.


Kool & the Gang, officially launched in 1969, after performing for five years under various band titles, has influenced the music of three generations and become true recording industry legends.

Thanks to iconic songs like “Celebration,” “Cherish,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Summer Madness” and “Open Sesame,” they’ve earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top 10 R&B hits, nine Top 10 pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums.

From Nairobi to Newark, Kool & the Gang has performed continuously longer than any R&B group in history and their bulletproof funk and jazzy arrangements have made them the most sampled R&B band of all time.  The heavily-in-demand band has continued to tour the world, appearing alongside Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John, The Roots, and Van Halen.

In 1964, Ronald Bell and his brother, Robert “Kool” Bell, joined Jersey City neighborhood friends Robert “Spike” Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith to create a unique musical blend of jazz, soul and funk. At first calling themselves the Jazziacs, the band went through various names—The New Dimensions, The Soul Town Band, Kool & the Flames—before settling on their famous moniker.

Over the next several years they solidified their musical chemistry on the rough-and-tumble East Coast music scene supporting acts like Ritchie Havens and Richard Pryor. Their self-titled 1969 debut album introduced their signature instrumental sound and fierce horn arrangements and spawned their first Billboard R&B charted single, “Kool & the Gang.”

In 1969 Kool & the Gang released their self-titled debut album. It was the introduction to a theme—music is the message—that Kool & the Gang stands by today. The instrumental album was an expression of their deep love of music. It was also an introduction to their signature sound and the fierce horn arrangements created by Khalis, Dee Tee, and Spike. Their debut album spawned their first Billboard R&B charted single “Kool & the Gang” and later “Let the Music Take Your Mind.”

In 1970, their audacious sophomore set Live at the Sex Machine (1971)vpeaked at No. 6 on Billboard’s R&B chart and yielded three hit singles: “Funky Man,” “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight,” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” Next came The Best Of Kool & the Gang Featuring The Penguin (1971), Kool & the Gang Live at PJ’s (1971), Music Is The Message (1972), and Good Times (1972), all of which helped solidify a sound that wowed not only fans but contemporaries such as James Brown and Nina Simone.

The band’s stellar reputation grew with each album, but 1973’s gold disc Wild & Peaceful took Kool & the Gang to another level (No. 6 R&B, No. 33 pop), spurred by the immortal party anthems “Funky Stuff,” “Hollywood Swinging” and the platinum smash “Jungle Boogie.” Hits like “Higher Plane”(No. 1 R&B), the classic “Summer Madness(featured on the Grammy-winning movie soundtrack Rocky) and LPs “Spirit of the Boogie,” “Love & Understanding,” and “Open Sesame”followed. The latter’s title track was featured on the top-selling movie soundtrack of all time, Saturday Night Fever, earning the group their second Grammy.

In 1979, Kool & the Gang unveiled a smooth new sound with Ladies Night. Produced by the legendary pop/jazz musician Eumir Deodato, it became their first platinum album. The No. 1 R&B title track reached No. 8 at pop and was followed by “Too Hot” (No. 3 R&B, No. 5 Pop). The 80’s would see them dominate the mainstream, starting with the double platinum-selling album Celebrate (driven by the international monster hit “Celebration,” which spent six weeks atop the R&B chart and became a No. 1 pop single).

“Celebration” remains de rigueur at joyous occasions worldwide. The smashes “Get Down On It,” “Take My Heart,” “Let’s Go Dancing,” “Joanna,” “Tonight,” “Misled,” “Cherish,and the anthem “Fresh”solidified the group’s international stardom. Kool & the Gang landed global commercial endorsements, supported countless charitable causes and were the only American group to participate in Band Aid’s 1984 Do They Know It’s Christmas project for famine victims in Africa.

With the explosion of hip-hop in the 90’s, Kool & the Gang’s incredible catalog of grooves made them DJ favorites. They were second only to R&B icon James Brown as sources of rap music samples.

Today, the group enjoys global fame and recognition and a following that spans generations due in part to the groups widely sampled catalogue. Kool & the Gang’s drum beats, bass, guitar, and signature horn lines lace the tracks of numerous artists including the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cypress Hill, and P. Diddy. Kool & the Gang’s music is also featured on the soundtracks for Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, Wreck-It Ralph and countless others.

In 2014, they were honored with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2015, Kool & the Gang were honored to take their place as American musical icons with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.  

In 2016, they released a single, “Sexy (Where’d You Get Yours).” The song signified a modernization of Kool & the Gang’s unmistakable sound, down to the dance floor-tailored bass grooves and the perfectly timed horns.  It was their first airplay chart hit in a decade.

Kool & the Gang continues to delight fans around the globe with their timeless hits and amazing live performances. Their most recent album, Perfect Union, was released in 2021.   


It’s time for the artist who first posed that infamous question to do what he does best… generate infectious music and riveting performances that inspire the audience to get up and move!

The legendary, pimpadelic funkmaster Morris Day, best known as the break-out star of rock movie sensation Purple Rain, released his latest album in 2004 through Hollywood Records: It’s About Time. Day returns as the freakalicious frontman for one of the all-time greatest party bands and reunites with the time’s original bandmates, valet/vocalist Jerome Benton, drummer Jellybean Johnson, and keyboard artist Monte Moir to present past favorites such as “Jungle Love,” “Get It Up,” and “The Bird,” as well as four new tracks including “My Ride,” “Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed,” and “Two Drink Minimum.”

Born in Minneapolis, Day had a flair for fashion. Inspired by photographs of his grandpa in zoot suits, a true fashionista was formed. Day went to school with Prince Rogers Nelson and sang in Prince’s first band Grand Central. Prince grew as an artist and so did the opportunity around him. The Time was originally created as Prince’s alter-ego to be seen as the cool, street-wise funk band contrasting Prince’s more soulful R&B sound. After looking at several lead vocalists, Prince wanted someone with mad talent so he cast his high school friend—the funky, the fabulous Day.

Soon after, Morris Day and The Time were cast in Purple Rain which captured the exploding Minneapolis music scene at its peak. Day burst onto the public scene with the group’s self-titled 1981 album, The Time, which included “Get It Up,” “Cool,” and “Girl.” Soon after the world was introduced the prolific Minneapolis music marvel, the group went on to record three more albums, including the 1982 What Time Is It? (featuring the hits “777-9311,” “Wild And Loose,” “Walk,” and “Gigolos Get Lonely Too”) and Ice Cream Castle in 1984 (which included the hit “Jungle Love”).

After three albums, Day launched his solo career, releasing three albums: the Color Of Success (1985), Daydreaming (1987), and Guaranteed (1992). Combined sales of Day’s solo work and the time is in excess of 10 million units. “It was such an innocent time,” Day reminisces. “We were just doing our thing, talking the way we talked and dressing the way we dressed. Bringing our personalities to the record. It was us being us. I’m proud of where I came from musically and the things we’ve done, but I ’m here with another project. I’m looking forward to the ride again. That’s what I ’m focusing on now.”

When asked, where have you been? Day smiles his smooth cheshire (mischievous) grin. “I’ve been waiting for just the right time to launch a new project. I felt that hip-hop has had such a strong hold on the industry the timing needed to be perfect. I’ve continued to record over 100 songs and to tour. With new artists sampling old-school music, my phone started ringing off the hook. I knew it was the right time.”

Day was performing for South Park’s 100th episode celebration to a private Hollywood crowd of industry insiders when manager Courtney Benson approached him backstage. “His performance was electrifying, and the audience reaction was phenomenal,” says Benson (also manager to hip hop-superstar Nelly). Benson brought Day to Hollywood Records where Day met with label head Bob Cavallo and his team, and the deal was inked.

Most recently, Day contributed a cover of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” for the haunted mansion soundtrack and gave an unforgettable performance in Kevin Smith’s hit 2001 film, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, in which Day and the band served as a running plot device and performed a soaring “Jungle Love” finale. “Kevin said he’d written the script with us in mind,” nods Day.

In his latest album, Day combined classic old school sounds with new music featuring hot new artists. He delivers energetic vocals and witty lyrics, complemented by his trademark smooth-as-silk dance moves, all wrapped up in flashy, dapper fashions! Somebody bring the man a mirror—it’s a brand new day.




Dan and Gayle D’Aniello,
Wolf Trap 2022 Season Underwriters