Boneyard Media

Song ID: Kool and the Gang – “Celebration” (1980)


A book idea I have is to take a quasi familiar, cultural wallpaper song like this and interview 500 people to get quick vignettes or anecdotes about what they were doing when they first heard it. “Celebration,” for me, long before it became a wedding standard or Erik Estrada strutted to it on CHiPs, was this:

In Salt Lake City, during the first two seasons after the New Orleans Jazz had relocated, you could get courtside tickets at the Salt Palace for $12. I saw more live basketball during 1979-81 than I would for the rest of my life. My friends and I would go early and watch the teams warm up before introductions. Before a Jazz-Pacers game in November 1980, we observed Rickey Green and John “Bay Bay” Duren doing ad lib dance steps to it as it thumped from the speakers and we had no idea what it was. Then we noticed two of the Pacers (Kenny Natt? Johnny Davis?) doing the same thing. The scene┬áreinforces itself every time I hear this song, decades-running.

Kool and the Gang – “Celebration” (1980)

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