Youngstown natives will be inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Kool & the Gang, founded by Youngstown natives Robert “Kool” Bell and his younger brother Ronald Bell, will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The inductees for 2024 were revealed during Sunday’s episode of “American Idol.” They will be joined by Mary J. Blige, Cher, Dave Matthews Band, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Ozzy Osbourne and A Tribe Called Quest in the performer category. It’s a larger induction class than in recent years.

Inductees under the musical excellence award will be Jimmy Buffett, MC5, Dionne Warwick and Norman Whitfield. Alexis Korner, John Mayall and Big Mama Thornton will be inducted as musical influences, and Suzanne De Passe will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

The Bell family moved from Youngstown to New Jersey when the brothers were 10 and 8 years old, and their musical careers started in New Jersey. However, in a 2023 interview with this newspaper, Robert Bell talked about how he and his brother would use paint cans as bongos as little kids. And in a 2018 interview, Ronald Bell (who died in 2020) talked about how his love of music was shaped by his father bringing home Miles Davis’ “Round About Midnight” album and listening to his Aunt Mae and his uncles playing records when he was growing up in Youngstown.

Kool & the Gang won two Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards and had 25 top 10 R&B hits during its career. The group was honored with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.

In addition to its own hits, Kool & the Gang has been sampled nearly 2,000 times by other artists, making it one of the most sampled acts in music history.

Kool & the Gang was the first act selected for Youngstown’s Walk of Fame in 2023, and a ceremony was held before the band’s performance at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre last July.

Robert Bell said in 2023 that he expected 2024 to be a big year for the band because it would be the 60th anniversary of the Jazziacs, the band that evolved into Kool & the Gang.

Those big plans now include induction into the Rock Hall.

The 2024 induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Oct. 19.


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