It is with a heavy heart that we at The Root report that Ronnie Wilson, founding member of The Gap Band, has transitioned. He was 73.
According to CNN, his wife, Linda Boulware-Wilson, broke the news when she posted on Facebook that the multi-instrumentalist had died on Tuesday morning after suffering a stroke last week.
“The love of my life was called home this morning, at 10:01am,” she wrote. “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!!!”
Brothers Ronnie, Charlie, and Robert Wilson grew up singing in their father’s church before eventually forming The Gap Band in Tulsa, Okla., during the late 1960s. The name of their band was a tribute to Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, which are three streets located in a prominent Black neighborhood that was the target of the infamous 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
After struggling to find success with their first two releases, 1974’s Magicians Holiday and 1977’s self-titled The Gap Band, the group signed with Los Angeles-based producer Lonnie Simmons’ production company, Total Experience Productions. Soon after, they rose to fame with a string of classics such as “Shake,” “Oops Up Side Your Head,” “Yearning for Your Love,” “Party Train,” and “Outstanding,” which has been sampled by more than 150 artists according to the band’s management company, P Music Group.
On Twitter, friends and fans of Wilson have taken to the platform to celebrate his legacy and offer their condolences.
“My friend Ronnie Wilson went to be with Jesus yesterday at the age of 73,” Twitter user Melanie Robison tweeted. “He was one of the kindest, gentlest, and funniest men I’ve ever been honored to know. Thank you for singing with us at CBC for many years. Go rest high on that 🏔, your work on Earth is done. #gapband”
We at The Root offer our thoughts and prayers to the Wilson family.