Ronnie Wilson, the founder of the GAP band does it again with “20/20 Vision”. He is reforming and establishing the sound of what it means to be the GAP band and its promise to deliver what we remember fused with a new sound that will leave you wanting more.
The Gap Band, centered on 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 The band adopted formula of quiet storm ballads (such as the #5 R&B song “Yearning for Your Love” and “Are You Living”). 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.
The Gap Band’s first album, Magician’s Holiday, was released in 1974. A self-titled album followed two years later with guest appearances from D.J. Rogers, Reverend James Cleveland, Chaka Khan, Leon Russell, and Les McCann, and featured 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.”
The Gap Band II
A deal with Mercury put the Gap Band on the fast track. A rereleased 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. “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 the band’s sound and style).
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. “They remain an influential urban group of the 1980s,” according to Rolling Stone online, and their work is heavily sampled by hip-hop artists today.