Ronnie Wilson, a founding member of R&B and funk group The Gap Band and Charlie Wilson’s older brother, passed away on Tuesday (Nov. 2) after suffering a stroke last week. He was 73 years old.
Wilson’s death was confirmed in a Facebook post by his wife Linda Boulware-Wilson on Tuesday.
“The love of my life was called home this morning at 10:01 a.m. Please continue to pray for the Wilson, Boulware and Collins family while we mourn his passing,” she wrote. “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!!!”
Wilson, Charlie and their brother Robert formed The Gap Band in the late 1960s. The trio was originally called The Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band after three streets in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma that were attacked by a white mob during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
The group ended up abbreviating their name to The G.A.P. Band and later, The Gap Band. The trio rose to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s, releasing their debut album Magicians Holiday in 1974 followed up by The Gap Band in 1979.
Their biggest hits arrived in the 80s, such as “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” from their gold-certified album The Gap Band II; “Burn Rubber on Me” off The Gap Band III; and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Outstanding” from 1982’s Gap Band IV.
The Gap Band continued to be an influence in the new jack swing sound throughout the 80s and released a total of 15 studio albums, 13 compilation albums and two live albums. The band’s songs have been famously sampled by N.W.A., Nas, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Mary J. Blige and more, with “Outstanding” having been sampled over 150 times, their website states.
After 43 years together, The Gap Band retired in 2010. Robert sadly passed away following a heart attack at his home in Palmdale, California that same year.
See tributes to Wilson from fans on Twitter below. Rest in Peace.