Ronnie Wilson, Co-Founder of Funk Group The Gap Band, Passes Away at 73

Ronnie Wilso, center , of the Gap Band. Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Ronnie Wilson, a co-founder of the legendary R&B/Funk group The Gap Band passed away on Tuesday, NPR reported. He was 73.

His wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, confirmed her husband’s passing in a Facebook post.

“The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01 am,” her post read. “Please continue to pray for The Wilson, Boulware, and Collins family, while we mourn his passing. 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!!!”

Along with his brothers Charlie and Robert, he formed The Gap Band in the late 1960s.

Originally named The Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band, the group took their moniker from three streets in a Black area of their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Black Wall Street,” which was targeted by a White mob during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.

They later abbreviated the name to The G.A.P. Band and finally The Gap Band.

After being discovered by another Oklahoman, noted songwriter Leon Russel, the group released their debut album Magicians Holiday, in 1974. But it wasn’t until 1979 that the group skyrocketed to superstardom with their breakthrough single “Oops Upside Your Head” off their fourth studio album, The Gap Band II. Since that time, the band released several classic songs such as “Early in the Morning,”  “Burn Rubber on Me,” “Humpin,'” You Dropped a Bomb On Me,” “Yearning for You For Your Love,” and “Outstanding,” which is one of the most sampled songs of all-time. Throughout the ’80s, the band enjoyed a string of successful singles and albums.

Many of The Gap Band’s songs, including “Outstanding,” were sampled on hip hop tracks years later by N.W.A. and Nas. Recently, the group was credited as co-writers for the Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson hit, “Uptown Funk,” after a legal claim due to its similarity to “I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops!)”

Ronnie was the anchor of the band, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who played percussion, keyboards, horns as well as contributing vocals on the group’s albums. 

When the band was on hiatus, Ronnie became involved in the music ministry of Community Bible Church in San Antionio and worked for many years as a sales representative at AT&T

We at EBONY extended our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ronnie Wilson.

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