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Gap Band

The Gap Band, centered around brothers Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson, toiled in obscurity for several years prior to becoming one of the most popular funk groups of the late '70s and 1980s. The Tulsa, OK natives produced 15 Top Ten R&B singles ranging from ferocious funk anthems to gorgeous slow jams. Many of their hits, such as "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" and "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," featured instantly memorable, rippling synthesizer basslines. All of them featured Charlie's deep, invigorating lead vocals. While casual R&B fans and most critics associate the Gap Band with the early '80s, the Wilsons' run of hits spanned nearly 20 years, from 1977 through 1995.

Born and raised in Tulsa, OK, the Wilson brothers began singing and playing in their father's Pentecostal church; at home, music lessons were mandatory. They learned various instruments, primarily the piano. As much as they despised the lessons at the time, they proved to be invaluable. Ronnie, the oldest sibling, established his own band by the age of 14. Charlie, a few years younger, joined a rival band a couple years later. One night, the two bands were performing across the street from one another. Ronnie stopped by to check out Charlie grooving on the organ. While there, Ronnie asked Charlie to join his band for 50 dollars over what he was making. Though Charlie's bandmates doubled that offer, he joined his brother's band. Ronnie gave him no choice.

At a gig not too long after the two had joined forces, the bass player quit and Ronnie and Charlie summoned their younger brother Robert, barely 14, to take the spot. For a short while, the band performed without a name but eventually settled on the Greenwood, Archer & Pine Street Band. As advertising such a name on posters was cumbersome, the Wilsons shortened the name to the G.A.P. Street Band. Due to a typographical error, they were advertised as the Gap Band, and it stuck.

The band performed at venues around the Tulsa area, including country & western joints, tennis clubs, and rock clubs. However, by the middle of the 1970s, Charlie left Tulsa to explore his possibilities in Los Angeles. A short time later, he convinced his brothers to join him. The bandmembers floundered until they met entertainment businessman Lonnie Simmons through their friend, singer/songwriter/musician D.J. Rogers. Simmons owned a recording studio and nightclub, both of which were dubbed Total Experience (also the name that would appear on Gap Band releases during the '80s), and signed the Wilsons along with their nine bandmates.

The Gap Band's first album, Magician's Holiday, was released in 1974 to little fanfare. A self-titled album followed three years later; despite guest appearances from D.J. Rogers, Reverend James Cleveland, Chaka Khan, Leon Russell, and Les McCann, it didn't leave any chart impressions, either, though it did feature a pair of minor hits in "Out of the Blue (Can You Feel It)" -- an excellent, mellow, electric piano-driven song written by Charlie -- and "Little Bit of Love."

A deal with Mercury put the Gap Band on the fast track. A self-titled 1979 album reached number ten on Billboard's R&B chart, led by the success of "Shake" (number four R&B) and "Open Up Your Mind" (number 13 R&B). They followed it later in the year with The Gap Band II, an album that spawned two more Top Ten R&B singles. Released in 1980, The Gap Band III was their first number one R&B album, where their sound became even more distinctive. It wasn't just the voice of Charlie that stood out. "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" was the band's first major hit dominated by a synthesizer bassline, provided by Cavin Yarbrough, who scored around the same time with his and Alisa Peoples' "Don't Stop the Music." Just as those two songs defined the sound of clubs in 1980, "Yearning for Your Love" quickly became a classic ballad, and was covered a decade later by Guy (whose Aaron Hall was the younger singer most evidently inspired by Charlie's sound and style).

There's no denying that the Gap Band's peak came during the early '80s. This notion would have been easy to predict as early as 1982, when they released three major hits: "Early in the Morning" (number one R&B; covered by Robert Palmer), "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" (number two R&B), and "Outstanding" (number one R&B). Even so, it's not as if the remainder of the decade was dry for them, not when they released 16 additional charting A-sides (including the title song to Keenan Ivory Wayans' I'm Gonna Git You Sucka), six of which reached the R&B Top Ten, as well as popular albums on an almost annual basis. Their popularity waned only when they slowed their recording schedule. Three studio Gap Band albums were released during the 1990s. Charlie Wilson concentrated on his solo career, starting in 1992 with You Turn My Life Around. The singer began to reach out to a younger audience in 1996, when Snoop Dogg featured him on "Snoop's Upside Your Head." Further collaborations with Snoop, R. Kelly, and Justin Timberlake followed throughout the 2000s. In August 2010, Robert Wilson died of a heart attack. ~ Andy Kellman & Craig Lytle
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Ultimate Collection

1. Shake

3. Steppin' Out

5. Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

6. Yearning For Your Love

7. Early In The Morning

8. You Dropped The Bomb On Me

9. Outstanding

10. Party Train

11. Beep A Freak

12. I Found My Baby

13. Going In Circles

14. Big Fun

17. All Of My Love

18. Addicted To Your Love

19. We Can Make It Alright

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Gap Band

1. Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

2. Outstanding

3. I Don't Belive You Wanna Get Up And Dance (oops!)

4. Party Train

5. You Dropped A Bomb On Me

6. Early In The Morning

7. Yearning For Your Love

8. Shake

9. Season's No Reason To Change

10. Steppin' (Out)

11. Humpin'

x

Track List: The Ballads Collection

1. Yearning For Your Love

3. You Can Count On Me

5. I'm In Love

7. Outstanding

8. Season's No Reason To Change

12. You Are My High

x

Track List: Gap Gold

1. Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

2. Outstanding

4. Party Train

6. You Dropped A Bomb On Me

7. Early In The Morning

8. Yearning For Your Love

9. Shake

10. Season's No Reason To Change

x

Track List: The Gap Band IV

1. Early In The Morning

2. Seasons No Reason To Change

4. Outstanding

6. You Dropped A Bomb On Me

x

Track List: The Gap Band III

1. When I Look Into Your Eyes

2. Yearning For Your Love

3. Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)

4. Nothin' Comes To Sleepers

5. Are You Living

6. Sweet Caroline

7. Humpin'

8. The Way

9. Gash Gash Gash

x

Track List: The Gap Band II

1. Steppin'

2. No Hiding Place

3. I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance

4. Who Do You Call

5. You Are My High

6. Party Lights

7. The Boys Are Back In Town

Comments

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Great band
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carlbunton19 6 1
Love that funky music
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Great song
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Motherfunk! What great tunes!!
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grandmother1 9 5 6
I love all the funk bands
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Man man man this is real music. If you play this music anywhere people will bob their heads.
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Gap band will be on unsung next season...
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Real Music
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This is music unlike the bull s**t they play on the radio
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Rock on, my music JoAnn Crosby this 67yrs young lady can still rock on, the Crosby 'still rocking to the music 6-09-2016
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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This is The Jamm Everytime I d look. In To Pandora My head is. In Clouds Gina....
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The Finest. gee (Thank you .....
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Pandora needs to change the name of this song it's actually oops up side your head.I'm 38 yrs old I may not be that old to some people to know this but I do
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Excuse me...can't even listen to new r n b auto tune covering up lack of talent...gap band and others are so much better.
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I can't even listen to new rub...
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jamieb12871
The party train
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moleculematt
So much jams.
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Early in the morning, in the middle of the day baabaay, late at night bay-baayyy evrythang's gon b all rite!!! Classic OLD School JAM!!!
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jamieb12871
The best(along w/ u dropped a Bomb on.me...babe h . . . u dropped a bombonme
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I love to listen to all music
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Omg this music puts me on a high
Naturally
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Da Man With Da Jam LA
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Could really get ur dam dance on with this rythem and beat ....for sure!
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lizabdiaz
Maybe u to late
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Love. Old schoold brang back old time.
��Emma
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Aries. To February. Are you Listening r u thirr
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I am all about that boat
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mkriebs
������������
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Grove Street 4 life
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Love Rick James music
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Joann u thirr
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This song men
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Dallas. Texas. .loving it. ..
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I love being my self Mexican
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Outstanding exactly so exciting that's what I'm talking about
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This is the type of music I grew up on!! Not this garbage they call music now, so sad!!
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pedroso4853
...���������
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all day
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llambert793
That's what you call real music not that crap that is playing on radio today
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llambert793
Tune is sweet as candy ��
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Love this jam
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Love this jam . Good crawfish boil back in the day .
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Grew up listening to this.
Still slappin
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I love this song when I was growing up!!!
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YES they're bad dye job old school
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Gap band jams all day....outst a n d i n g is a hit. ....west up...
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cjasbg
Jazzy jazz
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Sheila I love this song it will never die play it /,,
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Grew up with this funk
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