The Gap Band are a U.S. R&B, funk and soul music group who rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s with their heavily-charged dance anthems and their sentimental and ethereal love songs. Comprising 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 and shortened its name to the Gap Band in 1979.
Growing up with a Pentecostal minister father, the Wilson brothers formed the Greenwood, Archer, and Pine Street Band in 1967, with Tuck Andress (later of Tuck and Patti). The name was chosen to honor the tragic but affirming memory of the streets (Greenwood Ave., Archer St., Pine St.) that formed the thriving African American business district of Tulsa, Oklahoma also called Black Wall Street. The Greenwood district was the site of one of the most violent racially motivated attacks in United States history. The complete destruction of the community was the result of the Tulsa Race Riot.
The band released their first record on an indie label in 1974 to little success. At the time, the group had up to twelve musicians, including drummer Ronnie Smith. Condensing to the three brothers and with producer Leon Russell at the helm, the group began to find success in 1978 with songs such as "I'm in Love" and "Shake", the latter becoming a Top 10 R&B hit.
By 1979, the group had changed its name to The Gap Band, and found success with the groundbreaking single "I Don't Believe You Wanna Get Up and Dance (Oops Upside Your Head)". But it was in the 1980s that the group found their biggest success, with songs like "Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)", "Humpin' ", "Yearning For Your Love", "Outstanding", "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", "I Found My Baby", "Early In the Morning", and "Party Train" further establishing the group as icons.
Four of the band's albums, The Gap Band II, The Gap Band III, The Gap Band IV, and Gap Band V - Jammin, achieved platinum selling status, and four of their singles ("All Of My Love", "Outstanding", "Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)", and "Early in the Morning") reached the #1 spot on the Billboard R&B charts.
Their success dwindled at the end of 1984, although they have continued to record albums and are constantly on tour. Brother Charlie ventured into a solo career during a break from the group in the mid-1980s, being featured on the 1985 hit with funk group Zapp titled "Computer Love". Wilson's powerful vocals would be credited in part for establishing the careers of Guy's Aaron Hall (singer), Keith Sweat, and R. Kelly. The band reunited in 1996, and issued The Gap Band: Live and Well, a live greatest hits album.
Ever since the 1990s, the Gap Band's most famous hits have been sampled and covered by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Warren G., Blackstreet, Shaquille O'Neal, Mia X, and Mary J. Blige. "Outstanding" was even sampled for a famous 1990s commercial for malt liquor. While they missed the time that black musicians recorded soundtracks for action films by a decade, they produced and recorded some songs for Keenan Ivory Wayans' 1988 hit movie, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Among the musicians they have inspired are R. Kelly, Keith Sweat, Ruff Endz, Guy, Blackstreet, Mint Condition, Jagged Edge, and Aaron Hall (singer). Recently, "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" was featured in the hit videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on funk radio station Bounce FM.