The music world is mourning the loss of an icon today. The Gap Band’s Ronnie Wilson passed today; he was 73. He was a founding member of the band and a beloved musician. The sad news hit the net early today with a statement from his wife. Celebrities, fans, and family have taken to social media with an outpouring of love and gratitude for him and the music he’s contributed to the world.
His wife Linda Boulware-Wilson confirmed to TMZ that Ronnie passed away peacefully in his home with her by his side. Ronnie had suffered a stroke the week before and passed away this morning at around 10 am. He is said to have been holding Linda’s hand when he died. On her Facebook, she said, “The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01 am. Please continue to pray for The Wilson, Boulware, and Collins family while we mourn his passing.” She continued, “Ronnie Wilson was a genius with creating, producing, and playing the flugelhorn, Trumpet, keyboards, and singing music, from childhood to his early seventies. He will be truly missed!!!”
Ronnie Wilson is the eldest brother of R&B icon Charlie Wilson. The siblings formed the band with their other brother Robert Wilson. GAP stood for the streets Greenwood, Archer, and Pine from their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. These streets were targeted by white mobs in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Ronnie is credited for his contributions on vocals, Trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synthesizer, percussion, and songwriting.
The Gap Band’s debut offering was 1974’s Magicians Holiday. They found their biggest success in the early ’80s with albums Gap Band III and Gap Band IV. These projects featured their biggest hits, “Burn Rubber On Me,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” and “Outstanding.” The group continued to be loved throughout the ’90s. Brother Robert Wilson passed on August 15, 2010, at the age of 53 after suffering a heart attack.
The GAP Bands influence is unrefutable. Charlie Wilson’s signature singing continues to shape the vocal styles of some of the biggest artists of the time, including Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, and more. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s hit “Uptown Funk” was so similar to GAP Band’s “Oops Upside Your Head” that they had to grant the Wilson brothers writing credits on the songs. The GAP Band is also credited with helping usher in the New Jack Swing movement of the early ’90s. Nirvana drummer turned Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl credits The Gap Band for inspiring the drum intro on their hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Their songs have been sampled over 100 times by everyone from NWA to Mary J Blige, DMX, Tina Turner and more.
The band ultimately disbanded in 2010. Ronnie is said to have been suing brother Charlie in recent years, believing Charlie was sabotaging plans for a GAP Band reunion tour. Charlie is now the last surviving member of the group. He has yet to release a statement on his late brother and is currently promoting a joint album with Smokey Robinson.