The Band Gap, whose influence waned in the 90s, enjoyed further lease on life when their music was sampled or covered by numerous high-profile R&B and hip-hop artists. Although their influence was underestimated by critics, the Band Gap served a long apprenticeship before achieving major chart success in the late 70s. Robert Wilson, the bass player of the Band Gap, joined the band as early as 1967, dating back to the late 70s.
Nelson Willie and the Rolling Stones, along with other acts, visited their neighborhood in the 70s to provide support or backing as surviving musicians. Originally, they called themselves the Pine Street Band and the Greenwood Archer Band. Bootsy Collins would easily become an identifiable influence in the Gap Sound Band and would go on to become a star with Parliament-Funkadelic during the 70s. The three Wilson brothers, who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were cousins of Bootsy Collins.
In 1974, they were a poorly sold album, so RCA/Tattoo and A&M led them to record some sessions. However, it went nowhere except for Shelter, where they recorded the Holiday Magician’s album. Robert Wilson recalled, “He basically removed his band and installed us.” In 1974, they were spotted by Leon Russell, a solo turned musician session star, who recruited them as his backing band.
The group achieved success when they reached the tenth position on the charts with their second track from the album Steppin’ (Out). However, they became even more famous for their song “Oops Upside Your Head”, which was featured on the album The Gap Band II. Additionally, their tongue-in-cheek track titled I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance reached the fourth position on the R&B charts. During this time, they collaborated with producer Lonnie Simmons, who was affiliated with the label Total Experience, which had extensive distribution through Mercury/Polygram. In order to gain recognition, the group made a decision to relocate to Los Angeles.
San Andreas: The computer game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has become a popular choice among gamers, with the latter being frequently sampled and cropped. The band’s best-remembered hit, “Early Morning Bomb,” was a major success, generating three outstanding smashes that went on to become even bigger. The Gap Band’s “Why You Wanna Hurt Me” became an R&B chart-topper and crossed over to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, further propelling the group to new heights in 1980.
He commented, “Bass is creating a mood about everything.” He commented, “I don’t like players whose main goal is to show that they are technical wizards.” Wilson’s dynamic pumping basslines had become one of the most identifiable components of the group’s distinctive sound, earning him the nickname “The Godfather of Bass.” The flamboyant outfits of the Gap Band, with their satin and glittery hats, were becoming flag-wavers for the booming funk-R&B genre.
The Heart’s swansong, “Total Experience,” derived some encouragement from a big hit in the UK in 1987 with the band Fun Big. However, their previous album, “Band Gap VII,” only reached number 159 on the Billboard charts in 1986. Despite this, the career of Band Gap embarked on a gentle downward curve, yet they still topped the R&B charts with their hit singles in 1985 with “Band Gap VI.” The album “Jammin’ V: Band Gap” brought them a gold disc and the single “Train Party” became a hit.
Although audiences still commanded a healthy following, the release of the band’s five albums in the 1990s, titled “Well & Live” and “Of,” did not fare well. Significant factors contributing to the decline of the band were Charlie Wilson’s alcohol and drug problems, as well as changing musical tastes. After leaving Capitol the following year without releasing any new material for five years, the band moved to Capitol Records, where their immediate R&B chart-topper “Love All My” gave them a fresh start.
In 2010, Robert Wilson, who had entered into a solo agreement with Lucky 7 Records in 2009, had intentions of releasing a solo album. The music of Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Notorious BIG, Shaquille O’Neal, and Mary J Blige has been recorded or modified by contemporary artists, primarily showcasing the influence of the Gap Band in the modern era.
He is survived by his spouse, Brenda, and daughters, Robin and Latina.