Kool & The Gang have been opening shows for Van Halen on their current tour, and the thought of the unlikely pairing of the 70s pop-funk icons with the kings of 70s high-energy hard rock took a little getting used to, according to KATG co-founder Robert “Kool” Bell.
It turns out, Bell says, the pairing was David Lee Roth's idea.
"He [Roth] saw our show in London last year for the big Glastonbury Festival and as they were putting together the Van Halen reunion tour, he went back to his camp and said, 'Hey, man, I'd like to have Kool & The Gang open up for us,' " Bell tells The Morning Call.
"They kind of felt it was a little strange in the beginning, but David kind of said, 'Hey, I think it'll work because in the '80s, Van Halen was sort of like the rock party band and Kool & The Gang was the pop funk party band. He said [Van Halen's] audience is 60 percent ladies – and of course, with 'Ladies Night,' we wrote a song for them. So it all came together."
Bell says he also learned that guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his band used to play Kool & The Gang's songs "Funky Stuff" and "Jungle Boogie" in clubs when they were on their way up.
"They were kind of into Kool & The Gang," Bell says with a laugh.
So far the combination has been a hit.
"The beer-drinking Van Halen [fans] at the tour the other night, they came in and by the time Kool & The Gang finished 'Ladies Night,' they were jumping up and down," Bell says with a laugh. "So they might have been hard-core fans in the beginning, but it's all kind of working out."
The Van Halen tour, in support of the band’s new album “A Different Kind Of Truth,” continues this week with shows in Philadelphia (Mon) and Buffalo (Fri).
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