The Gap Band’s Ronnie Wilson dies at age 73

In a statement to TMZ, Wilson's widow, Linda Boulware-Wilson, confirmed that he passed away peacefully at home in Oklahoma.

A founding member of legendary funk and soul group The Gap Band has died. 

Ronnie Wilson passed away on Tuesday after suffering a stroke last week. He was 73. 

The Gap Band — (from left) brothers Ronnie Wilson, Charlie Wilson and Robert Wilson — are shown on the cover of their hit 1982 album, “The Gap Band IV.”

In a statement to TMZ, Wilson’s widow, Linda Boulware-Wilson, confirmed that he died peacefully Tuesday at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She shared a message of his passing, calling Wilson a “genius with creating, producing and playing the flugelhorn, trumpet, keyboards, and singing music.”

With his brothers, Charlie and Robert, Wilson formed The Gap Band in their Tulsa hometown in the 1970s. Their funky soul sounds were reportedly inspired by bands like Parliament-Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire and Sly and the Family Stone

The group chose their name after Greenwood, Archer and Pine streets in their beloved hometown in honor and remembrance of the “Black Wall Street” district, where for two days in 1921, the Tulsa race massacre occurred. There, white mobs murdered entire families and torched the neighborhood in which scores of Black businesses were finding prosperity. 

The Gap Band had some successful singles in the late 1970s, but their biggest hits came in the early ’80s.

Their soul ballad, “Yearning for Your Love,” reached number five on the R&B chart, and they scored even bigger hits in 1982 with the release of The Gap Band IV — their sixth LP, despite its title. That album resulted in “Early in the Morning,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” and “Outstanding,” all of which remain soul music hits. 

The group retired in 2010 after the death of Robert Wilson at the age of 53.

Charlie Wilson went on to record successfully as a solo artist, and as a frequent and respected collaborator with rap artists. 

The Gap Band is one of the most frequently sampled bands in music, with elements of their work appearing in songs by Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, and more. The group was awarded a songwriting credit on the hit Bruno Mars song “Uptown Funk” due to its similarities to their classic, “Oops Upside Your Head.”

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