Ronnie Wilson, Gap Band founding member, died Tuesday at 73. The Gap Band founding member was “Uncle” Charlie’s older brother. He was an R&B legend and fans still remember their performances.
Ronnie Wilson’s wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, tells TMZ that he died at 10:01 AM Tuesday at his home in Tulsa. He died peacefully, and Linda was holding his hand as he took his last breath. A stroke last week put the Gap Band founding member in a semi-coma from which he never recovered. Over the years, he had suffered several strokes.
“A genius with creating, producing, and playing the flugelhorn, trumpet, keyboards, and singing music, from childhood to his early seventies.” Linda wrote in a Facebook post.
Growing up, the Wilson brothers lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, a white mob targeted Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, three prominent streets in the Black Tulsa neighborhood that their band is abbreviated for. Ronnie and his brothers grew up nearby.
In 1974, The Gap Band released their first album, Magicians Holiday. During the 1980s, they achieved their greatest success. In 1980, Gap Band III included “Burn Rubber on Me,” while Gap Band IV featured “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Outstanding.” The band continued to record throughout the ’80s and released multiple albums in the ’90s. The 53-year-old Robert Wilson passed away in 2010.
As well as his work as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with the Gap Band, Ronnie Wilson produced records for multiple artists, including Goodie’s 1982 album Call Me Goodie. In the 2000s, he was active in the music ministry of a church in San Antonio. In recent years, he filed a lawsuit against his brother Charlie for interfering with his plans for a new touring group called the New Gap Band.
The Gap Band have been credited with influencing new jack swing, but their sound has been sampled endlessly. The group’s songs have been sampled by N.W.A. (on “Straight Outta Compton”), Nas, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Tyler the Creator, Ice Cube, Mary J. Blige, and many others. The group is also credited with writing the song “Uptown Funk” because it is similar to “Oops Upside Your Head.”