‘Celebration,’ Kool & the Gang

J.T. Taylor of Kool and the Gang.

J.T. Taylor of Kool and the Gang.

It’s a song that fills a purpose. You need something to get the crowd pumped up at a wedding, or a bar mitzvah, or a sports event after the home team has won, and so you play Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.”

People have been doing that for 35 years now. The words can fit almost any happy occasion: “Celebrate good times, come on!”

(The is the last song in the daily, nearly year-long 350 Jersey Songs series. Cause for celebration, for me at least!)

I’ve included two other songs on the list by this Jersey band — “Kool and the Gang” and “Jungle Boogie” — but those are from 1969 and 1973, respectively. “Celebration,” the band’s only No. 1 hit (though it made it into the Top 10 on 11 other occasions), was from 1980, after it had transformed itself into a very different kind of act with the addition of the smoothly charming singer J.T. Taylor, who grew up in Hackensack and worked as a schoolteacher and a singer in local groups before getting the job. It was with Taylor, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, that Kool & the Gang had most of its biggest hits, including “Ladies’ Night,” “Joanna,” “Get Down on It” and “Cherish.”

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until Sept. 8, 2015.

If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.

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