Ronnie Wilson, one of the founding members of long-running sibling R&B/funk act The Gap Band had died at age 73.
“The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01am,” Wilson’s wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, wrote in a Facebook post. “Please continue to pray for The Wilson, Boulware, and Collins family, while we mourn his passing. 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!!!” A spokesperson for the group could not be reached for confirmation of Wilson’s death at press time.
According to a TMZ report, Linda Bouleware-Wilson said that her husband suffered a stroke last week, which sent him into a coma that he never recovered from.
Wilson formed the group in 1967 with his brothers Charlie and Robert in Tulsa, Okla., and they scored a series of Billboard R&B hits over a 40-year career during which they released 15 albums and such beloved singles such as “Shake,” “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head),” “Early in the Morning,” “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” and one of their highest-charting single, 1982’s No. 31 Hot 100 funk bop “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.”
The brothers originally named their group the Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band — for the three streets in the Black part of Tulsa that were attacked by a white mob during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre — and they released their full-length debut, Magicians Holiday, in 1974. The group finally broke through on their self-titled 1979 album — which featured R&B hits “Shake” and “I’m in Love” — crossing over to the pop charts in 1979 with their first platinum album, Gap Band III, which topped out at No. 16 on the Billboard 200 and yielded the singles “Humpin'” and “Burn Rubber.”
Though their chart success began to wane by the late 1980s and 1990s, their funky songs gained a robust second life during that period when they were heavily sampled and covered by everyone from Snoop Dogg, Nas and Ice Cube to Tyler, the Creator and Mary J. Blige.
Following the death of Robert Wilson of a heart attack in 2010, Charlie Wilson is the only living member of the group. Their 15th and final album, Y2K: Funkin’ Till 2000 Comz, was released in 1999 and they retired as a group in 2010.
Charlie Wilson brother paid tribute to his late brother with a social post. “Thank you for sharing your prayers & love regarding the loss of my brother Ronnie. I appreciate all your messages & am grateful for the support during this difficult time,” he writes, offering a message from the Bible.
Thank you for sharing your prayers & love regarding the loss of my brother Ronnie. I appreciate all your messages & am grateful for the support during this difficult time. 🙏🏿 "He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds." (Psalms 147:3)
— Charlie Wilson (@CharlieWilson) November 4, 2021
See Boulware-Wilson’s tribute and listen to “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” below.