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Gap Band

The Gap Band, centered around brothers Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson, toiled in obscurity for several years prior to becoming one of the most popular funk groups of the late '70s and 1980s. The Tulsa, OK natives produced 15 Top Ten R&B singles ranging from ferocious funk anthems to gorgeous slow jams. Many of their hits, such as "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," featured instantly memorable, rippling synthesizer basslines. All of them featured Charlie's deep, invigorating lead vocals. While casual R&B fans and most critics associate the Gap Band with the early '80s, the Wilsons' run of hits spanned nearly 20 years, from 1977 through 1995.

Born and raised in Tulsa, OK, the Wilson brothers began singing and playing in their father's Pentecostal church; at home, music lessons were mandatory. They learned various instruments, primarily the piano. As much as they despised the lessons at the time, they proved to be invaluable. Ronnie, the oldest sibling, established his own band by the age of 14. Charlie, a few years younger, joined a rival band a couple years later. One night, the two bands were performing across the street from one another. Ronnie stopped by to check out Charlie grooving on the organ. While there, Ronnie asked Charlie to join his band for 50 dollars over what he was making. Though Charlie's bandmates doubled that offer, he joined his brother's band. Ronnie gave him no choice.

At a gig not too long after the two had joined forces, the bass player quit and Ronnie and Charlie summoned their younger brother Robert, barely 14, to take the spot. For a short while, the band performed without a name but eventually settled on the Greenwood, Archer & Pine Street Band. As advertising such a name on posters was cumbersome, the Wilsons shortened the name to the G.A.P. Street Band. Due to a typographical error, they were advertised as the Gap Band, and it stuck.

The band performed at venues around the Tulsa area, including country & western joints, tennis clubs, and rock clubs. However, by the middle of the 1970s, Charlie left Tulsa to explore his possibilities in Los Angeles. A short time later, he convinced his brothers to join him. The bandmembers floundered until they met entertainment businessman Lonnie Simmons through their friend, singer/songwriter/musician D.J. Rogers. Simmons owned a recording studio and nightclub, both of which were dubbed Total Experience (also the name that would appear on Gap Band releases during the '80s), and signed the Wilsons along with their nine bandmates.

The Gap Band's first album, Magician's Holiday, was released in 1974 to little fanfare. A self-titled album followed three years later; despite guest appearances from D.J. Rogers, Reverend James Cleveland, Chaka Khan, Leon Russell, and Les McCann, it didn't leave any chart impressions, either, though it did feature a pair of minor hits in "Out of the Blue (Can You Feel It)" -- an excellent, mellow, electric piano-driven song written by Charlie -- and "Little Bit of Love."

A deal with Mercury put the Gap Band on the fast track. A self-titled 1979 album reached number ten on Billboard's R&B chart, led by the success of "Shake" (number four R&B) and "Open Up Your Mind" (number 13 R&B). They followed it later in the year with The Gap Band II, an album that spawned two more Top Ten R&B singles. Released in 1980, The Gap Band III was their first number one R&B album, where their sound became even more distinctive. It wasn't just the voice of Charlie that stood out. "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" was the band's first major hit dominated by a synthesizer bassline, provided by Cavin Yarbrough, who scored around the same time with his and Alisa Peoples' "Don't Stop the Music." Just as those two songs defined the sound of clubs in 1980, "Yearning for Your Love" quickly became a classic ballad, and was covered a decade later by Guy (whose Aaron Hall was the younger singer most evidently inspired by Charlie's sound and style).

There's no denying that the Gap Band's peak came during the early '80s. This notion would have been easy to predict as early as 1982, when they released three major hits: "Early in the Morning" (number one R&B; covered by Robert Palmer), "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" (number two R&B), and "Outstanding" (number one R&B). Even so, it's not as if the remainder of the decade was dry for them, not when they released 16 additional charting A-sides (including the title song to Keenan Ivory Wayans' I'm Gonna Git You Sucka), six of which reached the R&B Top Ten, as well as popular albums on an almost annual basis. Their popularity waned only when they slowed their recording schedule. Three studio Gap Band albums were released during the 1990s. Charlie Wilson concentrated on his solo career, starting in 1992 with You Turn My Life Around. The singer began to reach out to a younger audience in 1996, when Snoop Dogg featured him on "Snoop's Upside Your Head." Further collaborations with Snoop, R. Kelly, and Justin Timberlake followed throughout the 2000s. In August 2010, Robert Wilson died of a heart attack. ~ Andy Kellman & Craig Lytle, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

That's was the s**t" back the days
HE IS O STANDING U NO WHO R WE RUN THIS
marhead99
Say iPhone 5 times
Say a color
Post this on 2 songs
Look under a pillow
Pandora dropped this bomb on me....and I like it!
Burn Rubber...thi s song gets me going. Love Gap Band!!!
Damn love it !Jmae
Saw them in concert ��
This song is the jam
leonardbongo m a n
The Gap Band (have mercy ��)
Love this song
one of my all time favorite songs!!!!
the gap band yes
Gap Band - what a nice surprise today! Takes me back...I will add it to my music collection right away.
Love me some GAP Band. Taking me back and motivating me to groove on!
THE FUNK MASTER HITTIN ALL CORNERS WITH THIS ONE, CAN YOU DIG IT. WHERE MY KEYS AND YAK.
switch this stuff up on some original FUNK.CAN YOU DIG IT
A lot of people that liked this track keep popping up on a lot of my likes too. Just a shout out to all and a Happy TG.
One of the best love songs to come out of that era. always layed this track dn on the right person. She and I would always take it to the heart. GAP BAND.
Special love
Tulsa artist ...makes me proud
Charlie ��������
Me and my bro..Las Vegas, Nevada..in the club gettin our cha-cha on..memories ! ! !
lllooovvveee the Gap Bad
I love Gap Band
I love the gap band
I love the GAP band! Awesome sounds!
Robert Wilson death was a shock to Waldo,Arkans a s
The black wallstreet. Yall dont know the hidden meaning of this song
jorge4846
love the old funk
jorge4846
gooood music


Youdropthebo o m
I love you the gap band
YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME !!
These cats right here are righteous you dig
lst96rn2
College memories this song was blowing up all the parties in 1980 GAP band fan for life
Yea I remember my mom jamming to the GAP band back in the days, and today I love listening to them now
This is the real truth
000000000000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gap Me Baby
Having this song playing in the back ground making deep passionate love.."my heart is yearning for your love"...R n L 4 eva ♡♡
I luvd their music in the daz.
This is best rb to date don't get no better .
marty2411har r i s
I know its not an official black bbq without a Gap Band song!
I luv these old school .
This band is so much fun. J'adore
Im telling you i remember pops bumping this all around the LBC,CPT,WATT S UP,ING,And Pimpin Pomona lots of memory s
Gap band YOU ROCK. My favorite for infinity
Nothing like uncle charlie got that title by being so able to understand olskool as well as new skool
One of the greatest bands ever!!
1 of the best songs ever..
Ora'le hit-it San Antonio,Tx. Row-with-it Michigan and Cal'fas makes shine like puro "Golden-Nugg e t s " it's all bout You" my Ruu-ka" I'm never giv'in up...Life-Is - W h a t - U - m a k e - i t - o u t - 2 B . . . S t a y Connected!!!
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