Ronnie Wilson of Funk Group the Gap Band Dies

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The Wilson brothers via the Gap Band’s Facebook page

Ronnie Wilson, who with his brothers, Charlie and Robert, formed the R&B / funk group the Gap Band, died November 2, 2021. His death at age 73 was announced by his wife Linda Boulware-Wilson on her Facebook page. “The love of my life was called home,” she wrote. The cause of death was reportedly the result of a stroke. Though true crossover success eluded them, the group amassed fifteen Top 10 singles, spanning a dozen years from the late ’70s into the early ’90s on the R&B chart.

Four of the band’s nine albums went platinum plus, selling millions of records that included four #1 R & B singles. Most of their hits were recorded for Mercury Records and the Total Experience label, founded by their longtime producer, Lonnie Simmons.

Two singles of note are “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Oops Up Side Your Head.”

From the band’s website: Charlie, Robert and Ronnie Wilson made themselves famous with their non-stop humorous funk grooves. The sons of a Pentecostal minister, the Wilson brothers started performing in 1967 when they formed a group along with Tuck Andress of Tuck and Patti Fame. The GAP Band, named after the black business hub of their native Tulsa, Okla., (Greenwood, Archer, Pine Streets), became the band of choice for visiting musicians. “We used to be called the Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band,” Charlie explains, “but that was a bit too much to put on posters, so we abbreviated it to G.A.P. Band. Then once, through a typographical error, the periods disappeared and out popped the GAP Band.”

Watch the video for “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”

From the late ’70s to early ’90s the band dominated the R&B charts with their hard driving funk grooves. One of those, “Outstanding,” remains one of the most sampled songs in history and has been used by more than 150 artists, including, Madonna, Tina Turner, Will Smith, Usher, George Michael, and even NBA star Shaquille O’Neal to name a few.

Ronnie Wilson, one of the group’s songwriters and singers, was a multi-instrumentalist, performing trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synthesizer, and percussion. He was predeceased by his brother Robert, who died in 2010. Brother Charlie provided the band’s lead vocals.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2021

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