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Vinnie's Conspiracy Theory


Vinnie asked a few questions that got a chuckle out of yours truly. He asked "Is it a requirement in th dj community to play "Celebration" at every single event or do you just play it to torture people? if it is required, will you be excommunicated if you don't play it ? Inquiring minds want to know".


Ahhh, the song "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang. Brings back many memories from sporting events in the early eighties. The Oakland A's (my favorite MLB team) used the song as an anthem with every win back in the day.The group's main members over the years included brothers Robert Bell (known as "Kool") on bass and Ronald Bell on tenor saxophone, lead vocalist James "J.T." Taylor, George Brown on drums, Robert Mickens on trumpet, Dennis Thomas on alto saxophone, Claydes Charles Smith on guitar, and Rick Westfield on keyboards. The Bell brothers' father was an acquaintance of Thelonious Monk, and the brothers were friends with Leon Thomas. "Celebration", was released in 1980 and quickly went to number 1 in February of the same year on the Billboard Hot 100 resting their for a few weeks however, the song would dominate the airwaves for the entire year.


Twenty years after it hit the top of the pop and R&B charts, "Celebration" is still ubiquitous, a true modern "standard" that seems to appeal to nearly every demographic group. "Celebration" was the biggest of the dozens of hits churned out by the New Jersey-based Kool & The Gang between 1969 and today, but it only represents one of the many styles this group of musical chameleons has tried through the years. Through the early '70s, Kool & The Gang continued to pepper the charts with minor hits but their big breakthrough came at the end of 1973, when "Jungle Boogie" hit the Top 5 and went Gold. They still played some jazzy instrumentals, but the focus of their sound had changed. For the next two years, they had one hit after another on the upper reaches of the R&B charts, including the Number One songs "Hollywood Swinging," "Higher Plane" and "Spirit of the Boogie." Their fortunes fell somewhat in the late '70s, as disco overtook funk as the most popular form of R&B, though they did manage to land their song "Open Sesame" on the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, which sold 25 million copies.


Who didn't like the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack? What a classic. Played that so many times on my 8 track...I just dated myself. Vinnie, you will be happy to know that I do not include the song "Celebration" in my normal playlist but to this day, it is still one of those songs that gets requested at parties. It's uplifting spirit tends to set the tone for any party and will live forever in the DJ library. Could you imagine getting a request for the song and having to say "no, I don't have that one". The followup response would be - what kind of DJ is this? Has he no soul? Has he no heart? What color underwear does he have on? You get the picture. An amazing song from an amazing time.


My advice to everyone is to download the lyrics, memorize them and sing out loud the next time you hear it play. Wherever you are, people will think you either really appreciate the song or you experienced a time in music when disco was leaving the scene and the unforgettable 80's were about to take over the charts.


Thanks for the question Vinnie and kudos to you for being the first inquiring mind on the "Magic" blog.


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