The Gap Band was an American R&B and funk band which rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s. Composed of brothers Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson, the band first formed as the Greenwood, Archer and Pine Street Band in 1967, in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The group shortened its name to The Gap Band in 1973. After 43 years together, they retired in 2010.
After having grown up with a Pentecostal minister father, Ronnie Wilson formed the Greenwood, Archer, and Pine Street Band in 1967, named after the most prosperous black communities of all time – Black Wallstreet, which was bombed during a race riot in 1921, with Tuck Andress (later of Tuck and Patti), Roscoe “Toast” Smith, and Chris Clayton. In 1972, Ronnie’s younger brother Charlie joined the band, and in 1973, their younger brother Robert became the band’s bassist. Eventually, the band would be condensed to a trio composed of Ronnie, Robert, and Charlie Wilson.
Early on, the group took on a funk sound reminiscent of the early 70s. This style failed to catch on, and their first two LP’s, 1974’s Magician’s Holiday and 1977’s The Gap Band (not to be confused with their 1979 album) failed to chart or produce any charting singles. However, they were introduced to LA producer Lonnie Simmons, who signed them to his production company Total Experience Productions (named after his successful Crenshaw Boulevard nightclub), and managed to get them a label deal with Mercury Records.
When Lonnie signed them, the group had twelve musicians. The group dropped most of their personnel. Raymond Calhoun (writer of “Outstanding”), Oliver Scott (co-writer of “Yearning For Your Love”), and arranger/producer Malvin Dino Vice (co-writer of “Boys Are Back in Town”) were retained as members of the backing band and contributed substantially to the Gap Band’s later recordings. On their first Simmons-produced album, The Gap Band, they found chart success with songs such as “I’m in Love” and “Shake”; the latter became a Top 10 R&B hit in 1979.
Later that year, the group released “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” on their album The Gap Band II. Although it did not hit the Hot 100, it soared to #4 R&B, and the album went gold. The song, and the band’s musical output as a whole, became more P-Funk-esque, with expanded use of the synthesizers and spoken monologues within songs (see audio sample). The song “Steppin’ (Out)” also reached the top 10 R&B.
The Gap Band – Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) (Slayd5000):