Ronnie Wilson, co-founder of The Gap Band, dies at 73

The Gap Band
From left: Robert Wilson, Charlie Wilson and Ronnie Wilson in 1980. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Ronnie Wilson, a founding member of the famed R&B and funk group The Gap Band, has died, his wife confirmed Tuesday. He was 73.

“The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01 am,” Linda Boulware-Wilson said in a Facebook. “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,” she added. “He will be truly missed!!”

In 1967, Wilson founded the group with his brothers, Charlie and Robert. The Oklahoma natives originally named the group after three streets targeted in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre: Greenwood, Archer and Pine, according to the group’s website. They eventually shortened the name to the Gap Band, beginning a musical journey to stardom together. 

“We used to be called the Greenwood Archer Pine Street Band,” Charlie said on the band’s website, “but that was a bit too much to put on posters, so we abbreviated it to G.A.P. Band. Then once, through a typographical error, the periods disappeared and out popped the GAP Band.”

The Gap Band
From left: Robert Wilson, Charlie Wilson and Ronnie Wilson in 2005. Alexander Tamargo / Getty

The band eventually toured with acts like The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell, and is widely known for the hits “You Dropped A Bomb On Me,” “Party Train,” and “Outstanding.” 

The group’s website says “Outstanding” is one of the most sampled songs in history and has been used by more than 150 artists, including Madonna, Tina Turner and Usher.

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