Ronnie Wilson, one of the founding members of the legendary R&B and funk group The Gap Band, has died. He was 73 years old.
According to TMZ, Wilson’s wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson confirmed the news that the musician died Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 10:01 am at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wilson had reportedly suffered a stroke last week — one of many he’s experienced over the years — and fallen into a semi-coma from which he never recovered.
“The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01am. Please continue to pray for The Wilson, Boulware, and Collins family, while we mourn his passing,” Boulware-Wilson wrote in a Facebook post. “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 formed The Gap Band in the late 1960s, along with his brothers Robert and Charlie, affectionately known to fans as Uncle Charlie. The trio quickly rose to fame in the ’70s and ’80s and are best known for hits such as “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Party Train,” “Early in the Morning” and “Burn Rubber on Me.” Their most recognizable record, “Outstanding,” has reportedly been sampled by more than 150 artists, CNN reported.
What many may not have known is that the group was originally named The Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band, after three streets in a Black-dominated area of their hometown of Tulsa — infamously targeted by a white mob during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre — though they didn’t live on those streets exactly.
The group would later abbreviate the name to The G.A.P. Band and then finally The Gap Band. Together, they released 15 albums with their first being the 1974’s “Magicians Holiday” and their last, “Y2K: Funkin’ Till 2000 Comz,” released in 1999.
Tribute posts have already begun to pour in from fans on social media. “One of my all-time favorite bands. He was an amazing musician,” wrote one Twitter user. “May he rest in peace.”
“Feel like someone just ‘dropped a bomb on me’ with this news. Ronnie was ‘outstanding. RIP” wrote another person.
With news of Wilson’s passing, Charlie is now the only surviving member of the iconic group. Robert Wilson died of a heart attack at his home in California in 2010. He was 53 at the time. Charlie has yet to make a public statement.