Songs like “I Don’t Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)”, “Burn Rubber” and later “Early In The Morning” and “You Dropped a Bomb On Me” catapulted Tulsa Oklahoma’s Gap Band to the stratosphere. But their first hit record was “Shake”, a monster funk jam, driven by a tremendous guitar riff, killer horns and featuring a virtuoso bass solo by the youngest of the three Wilson brothers, Robert.

We just received word that 53 year-old Robert Wilson of the Gap Band passed away Sunday of a massive heart attack. Our hearts go out to the Wilson family, and we can honor Uncle Robert by turning up our speakers, bumping this jam as loud as possible and Shaking our booties to the beat. Rest in the Funk, Robert Wilson.


This additional report via Bob Davis at

Robert Wilson of the Gap Band, ‘Godfather of bass guitar,’ dead at 53

By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer – 8/15/2010
Published: 8/15/2010
Last Modified: 8/15/2010  11:55 PM

The “Godfather of Bass Guitar,” Robert Wilson of the legendary Tulsa
jazz and funk group the Gap Band, died Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 53,
confirmed his publicist and manager, Don Jackson, in a late-night Sunday
phone call to the Tulsa World.
Wilson died from a massive heart attack in his home, Jackson said. His
family became concerned about him when they didn’t receive their regular
phone calls from him throughout the day. His adult son found Wilson’s
body on Sunday afternoon in Palmdale, Calif.

His family could not be reached for comment on deadline. Funeral and
memorial details will be shared as they become available, confirmed his

In a Tulsa World phone interview last week – his last public interview –
Wilson expressed joy about returning to his boyhood home of Tulsa and an
upcoming festival headlining show and following tour.

He is the son of a preacher and brother to Charlie and Ronnie, and was
raised in Tulsa. The three brothers started the funk band The Gap Band
in the 1970s, which was discovered by Tulsa Sound music icon Leon

“Leon came to my house and promised her he’d get me a tutor. He wanted
me on the road, he knew we’d be a big thing,” Wilson laughed during the
interview last week. “My mamma cooked him catfish, and we couldn’t
believe he was eating dinner with us in our house,” he remembered of his
early days. Wilson’s mother agreed – only to see Wilson later kicked out
of the school for truancy. Too many late-night concerts, he laughed,
“But I was all over the newspapers. My teachers knew I wasn’t sick,” he
said, then laughed again. “I was famous at age 14,” he said, “But my
brother Ronnie always took care of me.”

The band, originally the Greenwood, Archer and Pine Street Band,
shortened its name to help it better stand out on gig posters, said
Wilson in his last known press interview last week with the Tulsa World.
The group’s hits include “You Dropped A Bomb On Me,” “I Don’t Believe
You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops),” “Party Train” and others.

Indeed, before age 20, Wilson had played bass with some of the biggest
names in music, including Eric Clapton and Billy Preston.

Wilson had been working on a new album, expected out this fall,
confirmed Jackson. The project was co-produced by jazz master, sporting
great and Tulsa native Wayman Tisdale before his death from cancer in
2009. Wilson was an early mentor during Tisdale’s budding jazz career,
he said.

Details on funeral and memorial arrangements have not been announced,
said Jackson. It’s likely that the Timeless Music Festival Wilson would
have headlined on Aug. 28 will now be a tribute show to his memory, he
said. Details are below.
The festival was planned as a traveling event, with more than 30 stops
coast to coast, said Wilson.

Brother Ronnie has since left the Gap Band to become a bishop, said
Wilson. His brother Charlie was nominated for two Grammy awards this
year for best R&B solo album, “Uncle Charlie,” and best vocal
performance for the tune “There Goes My Baby.”

Wilson said he and Charlie both still performed the canon of Gap Band
hits in live shows. The last concert Robert Wilson did in Tulsa was four
years ago, he said.

Wilson’s Facebook fan page hasn’t been updated since he posted a recent
status to fans: “Thank you for your prays and support!!! Looking forward
to sharing my new music and touring soon. And to all you Gapper’s…
Oops Up Side Of Your Head. Love you, Robert.”

He is survived by a circle of close family and friends in the Tulsa
area, including a sister, his brothers, nephews and “lots and lots” of
friends, he said during the Tulsa World interview.

Blues Talkin'