The Gap Band

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The Gap Band
Gap Band.jpg
The Gap Band in 1983
Background information
Origin Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Genres Funk, boogie, electro-funk, R&B, soul, disco
Instruments Guitar, Synthesizer, Drums, Horns
Years active 1974–2010
Labels Shelter Records, Tattoo/RCA, Mercury, Total Experience, Capitol
Associated acts Dawn Silva
Website [1]
Past members

The Gap Band was an American R&B and funk band that rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s. The band consisted of brothers Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson; and they were named after streets (Greenwood, Archer, and Pine) in the historic Greenwood neighborhood in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The group shortened its name to The Gap Band in 1973. After 43 years together, they retired in 2010.


Early years[edit]

The band received its first big break by being the back up band for fellow Oklahoman Leon Russell's Stop All That Jazz album released in 1974.[1][2]

Early on, the group took on a funk sound reminiscent of the early 1970s.[3] This style failed to catch on, and their first two LP's, 1974's Magician's Holiday which was recorded at Leon Russell's historic The Church Studio and 1977's The Gap Band (not to be confused with their 1979 album) failed to chart or produce any charting singles. Afterwards, they were introduced to LA producer Lonnie Simmons, who signed them to his production company Total Experience Productions (named after his successful Crenshaw Boulevard nightclub), and managed to get them a record deal with Mercury Records.


On their first album, The Gap Band, they found chart success with songs such as "I'm in Love" and "Shake"; the latter became a Top 10 R&B hit in 1979.

Later that year, the group released "I Don't Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)" on their album The Gap Band II. Although it did not hit the Hot 100, it soared to #4 R&B, and the album went gold. The song, and the band's musical output as a whole, became more P-Funk-esque,[4] with expanded use of the synthesizers and spoken monologues within songs (see audio sample). The song "Steppin' (Out)" also reached the top 10 R&B.[5]

Charlie Wilson provided background vocals on Stevie Wonder's 1980 hit "I Ain't Gonna Stand For It" from Wonder's album Hotter Than July (1980).

The band reached a whole new level of fame in 1980 with the release of the #1 R&B and #16 Billboard 200 hit, The Gap Band III. That album had soul ballads such as the #5 R&B song "Yearning for Your Love", and funk songs such as the R&B chart-topper "Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)"[6] and "Humpin'". They repeated this formula on the #1 R&B album Gap Band IV in 1982 (the first album released on Simmons' newly launched Total Experience Records), which resulted in three hit singles: "Early in the Morning" (#1 R&B, #13 Dance, #24 Hot 100), "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" (#2 R&B, #31 Hot 100, #39 Dance), and "Outstanding" (#1 R&B, #24 Dance). It was during this time that former Brides of Funkenstein singer Dawn Silva joined them on tour.[7]

Their 1983 album, Gap Band V: Jammin', went gold, but was not quite as successful as the previous works, peaking at #2 R&B and #28 on the Billboard 200. The single "Party Train" peaked at #3 R&B, and the song "Jam the Motha'" peaked at #16 R&B, but neither made it onto the Hot 100. The album's closer "Someday" (a loose cover of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free") featured Stevie Wonder as a guest vocalist.[8]

Their next work, Gap Band VI brought them back to #1 R&B in 1985, but the album sold fewer copies and did not go gold. "Beep a Freak" hit #2 R&B, "I Found My Baby" peaked at #8 on the R&B charts, and "Disrespect" peaked at #18. That year, lead singer Charlie Wilson and singer Shirley Mardock provided backing vocals on Zapp & Roger's #2 R&B "Computer Love"[9].

Later years[edit]

While their 1986 cover of "Going in Circles" went to #2 on the R&B charts, and the album it was released on, Gap Band VII, hit #6 R&B, the album almost became their first in years to miss the Billboard 200, peaking at a mere #159.

While they were beginning to struggle stateside, the group found their greatest success in the UK when their 1987 single "Big Fun" from Gap Band 8 reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart.[10] 1988's Straight from the Heart was their last studio album with Total Experience.

The Gap Band caught a small break in 1988 with the Keenen Ivory Wayans film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. They contributed the non-charting "You're So Cute" and the #14 R&B title track to the film (The first was not on the soundtrack, but was used in the film).[11] Their first song on their new label, Capitol Records, 1989's "All of My Love" (from their album Round Trip), is, to date, their last #1 R&B hit. The album also produced the #8 R&B "Addicted to Your Love" and the #18 R&B ""We Can Make it Alright." They left Capitol Records the next year and went on a five-year hiatus from producing new material.

During the 1990s, the band released three non-charting studio albums and two live albums.


In 1992, Charlie ventured into a solo career and has had several moderate R&B hits on his own. Wilson's vocals were credited in part for inspiring the vocal style of new jack swing artists Guy, Aaron Hall, Keith Sweat, and R. Kelly. The band reunited in 1996, and issued The Gap Band: Live and Well, a live greatest hits album.

On August 26, 2005, The Gap Band was honored as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual BMI Urban Awards. The honor is given to a creator who has been "a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers". "Outstanding" alone remains one of the most sampled songs in history and has, astonishingly, been used by over 150 artists.[12]

Robert Wilson died of a heart attack at his home in Palmdale, California on August 15, 2010. Age 53.[13]



Since the 1990s, many of The Gap Band's hits have been sampled and covered by R&B and hip hop artists such as II D Extreme, Brand Nubian, Tyler, the Creator, 69 Boyz, Ashanti, Big Mello, Blackstreet, Mary J. Blige, Da Brat, Ice Cube, Jermaine Dupri, Mia X, Nas, Rob Base Shaquille O'Neal, Snoop Dogg, Soul For Real, and Vesta.[14] Other musicians inspired by The Gap Band include Guy, Aaron Hall, Jagged Edge, Bill Heausler, Mint Condition, R. Kelly, Ruff Endz, Keith Sweat, Joe Miller, GRiTT, The Delta Troubadours, and D'Extra Wiley.

Producer Heavy D sampled "Outstanding" for "Every Little Thing" a 1995 hit single by his boy band prodigies Soul For Real.[15], which reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.



  • Charlie Wilson – Lead vocals, piano, synthesizer, clavinet, organ, drums, percussion
  • Ronnie Wilson – Vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, synthesizer, percussion, songwriter
  • Robert Wilson (1957-2010) – Bass, guitar, percussion, vocals[16]

Support musicians[edit]

  • Lonnie Simmons – Guitar, percussion
  • Rudy Taylor – Keyboard, programming, back vocal
  • Raymond Calhoun – Percussion, drums, vocals
  • Val Young – Vocals
  • Billy Young - Keyboard
  • Cavin Yarbrough – Keyboard
  • Robert "Goodie" Whitfield – Piano, synthesizer, saxophone
  • James Gadson – Drums
  • James "Jimi" Macon – Guitar (1977–1986)
  • Ronnie Smith – Drums
  • Chris Clayton – Saxophone, vocals (1974–1983)
  • Alvin Jones – Trombone (1974)
  • Tommy Lokey – Trumpet (1974–1983)
  • Carl Scoggins – Congas, percussion (1974)
  • Roscoe Smith – Drums (1974)
  • O'Dell Stokes – Guitar (1974)
  • Lawrence "Lukii" Scott – Guitar (1974)
  • Tim Fenderson (Rabbit) – Bass
  • LaSalle Gabriel – Guitar (1994–1997)
  • Malvin "Dino" Vice – Trumpet, vocals, horn and string arrangements
  • Oliver Scott – Piano, synthesizer, trombone, vocals
  • Ronnie Kaufman – Drums
  • Fred "Locksmith" Jenkins – Guitar
  • Glenn Nightingale – Guitar
  • Jimmy Hamilton – Piano, synthesizer
  • Maurice Hayes – Guitar
  • Ira Ward – Drums, Bass, guitar, piano


  • Charlie Wilson
  • Lonnie Simmons
  • Raymond Calhoun
  • Rudy Taylor



External links[edit]