Gap Band Biography

This influential US funk/soul outfit was formed in 1967 by three brothers, Charlie Wilson (Charles Wilson, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA; vocals/keyboards), Ronnie Wilson (trumpet/keyboards) and Robert Wilson (bass/vocals). They took their name from the initials of three streets, Greenwood, Archer and Pine, in their home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Initially known as the Greenwood, Archer And Pine Street Band, the brothers were joined on stage by up to 10 other musicians, although their early recordings featured the slimmed down line-up of the Wilsons, James Macon (guitar), Tommy Lokey (horns) and Chris Clayton (horns). The group placed a couple of hits in the lower regions of the US R&B chart in 1977 before the departure of Macon, Lokey and Clayton. Studio musicians John Black (keyboards), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Glenn Nightingale (guitar) and Raymond Calhoun (drums) were then brought in to support the Wilsons.

A major label recording contract with Mercury Records helped raise the Gap Band’s profile to a national level, and in the space of a year the group hit the R&B Top 10 with ‘Shake’, ‘Steppin’ (Out)’ and ‘I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance’. The last release is better known by its subtitle, ‘Oops, Up Side Your Head’ and this infectious dance-based song also reached the UK Top 10 in 1980. The Gap Band continued to score substantial US R&B hits; ‘Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)’ (1980), ‘Early In The Morning’ and ‘Outstanding’ (both 1982), all topped that particular chart, while ‘Yearning For Love’ (1981), ‘You Dropped A Bomb On Me’ (1982), ‘Party Train’ (1983), ‘Beep A Freak’ (1984), ‘I Found My Baby’ (1985), ‘Going In Circles’ and ‘Big Fun’ (both 1986) all reached the R&B Top 10. The latter was also a UK Top 5 hit. Two years later they recorded the theme song to the movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, a pastiche of 70s ‘blaxploitation’ movies. Written by Norman Whitfield, the song was mixed by Frankie Knuckles, and as such confirmed the Gap Band’s unerring ability to adapt to current musical fashions.

The Gap Band returned to the top of the R&B charts in 1989 with ‘All Of My Love’, but despite this success their commercial momentum had slowed considerably. Charlie Wilson was by now a prominent session vocalist, and during a break in Gap Band activities at the start of the 90s released his debut solo album. The brothers reunited in 1994 and resumed touring and recording. Charlie Wilson has continued to record as a solo artist in addition to working with the Gap Band.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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