Gap Band co-founder Ronnie Wilson dies at 73

Ronnie Wilson, left, performs with his brothers and Gap Band mates Charlie and Robert in Miami Beach in 2005.
(Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)

Ronnie Wilson, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of the popular R&B and funk group the Gap Band, has died after suffering a stroke.

His wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, posted on Facebook that her husband died on Tuesday. He was 73.

“Ronnie Wilson was a genius with creating, producing, and playing the flugelhorn, trumpet, keyboards, and singing music, from childhood to his early seventies,” she wrote. “He will be truly missed!!!”


The Gap Band was formed in Tulsa, Okla., by brothers Ronnie, Charlie and Robert Wilson, who grew up singing in their father’s church. The band’s name was an acronym for Greenwood, Archer and Pine streets, site of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and the section of the city where the brothers grew up, according to Rolling Stone.

After their first record came out in 1974, they had hits throughout the ‘70s and ’80s with songs like “Shake,” “I Don’t Believe You Want Tto Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.”

A black-owned Oklahoma newspaper would not let the state forget the day white mobs murdered hundreds of African Americans in Tulsa.

May 22, 2020

The Gap Band was nominated in 1983 for best R&B instrumental performance for “Where Are We Going?” Many of their songs, including “Outstanding,” were often used as samples on hip-hop tracks decades later, including songs by N.W.A. and Nas.

Most notably, the Gap Band received a co-writing credit 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!)”

Robert Wilson, who was the bassist for the band, died at 53 in 2010. Charlie Wilson, who was the lead singer in the band, still performs as a solo artist.