Ronnie Wilson, who founded the influential funk group The Gap Band with his brothers, is dead at 73 


Ronnie Wilson, one of the three brothers who cofounded the popular funk group The Gap Band, died Tuesday at age 73.

Wilson’s wife Linda Boulware-Wilson announced his death on Facebook and shared with TMZ that he died at their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 10:01 in the morning.

Wilson, who performed with his brothers Charlie and Robbie Wilson, was a multi-instrumentalist and backup singer for the influential band. 

Funk legend: Ronnie Wilson, one of the three brothers who cofounded the popular funk group The Gap Band, died Tuesday at age 73; Ronnie (center) pictured with Charlie (L) and Robbie Wilson (R) circa 1980

Funk legend: Ronnie Wilson, one of the three brothers who cofounded the popular funk group The Gap Band, died Tuesday at age 73; Ronnie (center) pictured with Charlie (L) and Robbie Wilson (R) circa 1980

‘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 began her 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!!!’ she concluded.

Wilson’s widow added to TMZ that she held her husband’s hand throughout his final moments.

According to her, he had suffered a stroke the week before, which left him in a semi-comatose state that he never recovered from.

Saying goodbye: 'The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01am,' Wilson's wife Linda Boulware-Wilson revealed Tuesday on Facebook

Saying goodbye: ‘The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01am,’ Wilson’s wife Linda Boulware-Wilson revealed Tuesday on Facebook

Health problems: Wilson's widow added to TMZ that she held his hand in his final moments. She said he suffered a stroke the week before, which left him in a semi-comatose state that he never recovered from; seen in 2005 with Robbie (L) and Charlie (center)

Health problems: Wilson’s widow added to TMZ that she held his hand in his final moments. She said he suffered a stroke the week before, which left him in a semi-comatose state that he never recovered from; seen in 2005 with Robbie (L) and Charlie (center)

Boulware-Wilson also said that her husband had suffered from several strokes in recent years.

Wilson’s biggest contribution on record was as a keyboardist for The Gap Band, and he played a variety of synthesizers and keyboards in addition to piano.

However, he was also a trained horn player who helped spice up the group’s albums with his trumpet and flugelhorn, which is essentially a larger, lower-pitched trumpet.

Ronnie and his brothers Charlie and Robbie started the group in the early 1970s, and their albums, starting with 1974’s Magicians Holiday, featured an earlier style of funk music that was more sprightly and less dependent on deep bass.

The three brothers were from Tulsa and gave their band a name referencing the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. The name is an acronym for three streets — Greenwood, Archer and Pine — around which the racist campaign of murder and violence took place. 

A bit of everything: Wilson's biggest contribution on record was as a keyboardist for The Gap Band, and he played a variety of keyboards while cowriting several of the band's hits; seen circa 1980

A bit of everything: Wilson’s biggest contribution on record was as a keyboardist for The Gap Band, and he played a variety of keyboards while cowriting several of the band’s hits; seen circa 1980

The Gap Band failed to gain much commercial traction throughout the ’70s, though its fortunes improved after the brothers adopted more of a sense of groove inspired by the twin bands Parliament and Funkadelic.

The 1979 album The Gap Band showed off the funkier style and helped the brothers reach number 10 on Billboard’s Top Soul Albums chart.

The Gap Band II, released later that year, was even more successful, reaching number three on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart and 42 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The 1980 album The Gap Band III was an even bigger success and featured the hit ballad Yearning For Your Love and the popular funk track Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me). 

Evolution: The Gap Band started with an early-'70s version of funk before adopting a sound influenced by Parliament–Funkadelic that preceded greater success; seen with (L–R) Del R. Bryant, Robbie Wilson, Catherine Brewton and Charlie Wilson in 2005

Evolution: The Gap Band started with an early-’70s version of funk before adopting a sound influenced by Parliament–Funkadelic that preceded greater success; seen with (L–R) Del R. Bryant, Robbie Wilson, Catherine Brewton and Charlie Wilson in 2005

Although Ronnie worked more in the background that his brother Charlie, 68, who sang lead vocals, he cowrote many of The Gap Band’s songs, including several of their hits. 

The band would continue to ride a wave of success into the early 1980s, though its fortunes would diminish later in the decade.

In the early 1990s, Charlie struck out on a solo career, and Robbie died in 2010 at age 53.

The Gap Band continue to be hugely influential, particularly to rap and hip-hop musicians who have widely sampled from its music.

Lives on: The Gap Band continue to be hugely influential, particularly to rap and hip-hop musicians who have widely sampled from its music; pictured in 1985 in Chicago

Lives on: The Gap Band continue to be hugely influential, particularly to rap and hip-hop musicians who have widely sampled from its music; pictured in 1985 in Chicago

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