Charlie Wilson to Receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Charlie Will

Charlie Wilson to Receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Tulsa, Oklahoma native funk and R&B artist Charlie Wilson, a powerhouse vocalist and pianist with the Gap Band and later a solo career, and an original Shelter Records artist, will be recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 29th for his major contributions to the music industry. One of the first clients of The Church Studio, Charlie has 13 Grammy nominations and has had 13 R&B singles that have reached #1. He has also received the BET Lifetime Achievement Award, a Soul Train Icon Award, a Soul Train Certified Soul Award, and an NAACP Music Makes a Difference Award. Billboard recognized him twice as Top Adult Male R&B Artist.

Charlie, along with his brothers Ronnie and Robert, formed the Gap Band in Tulsa in the early 1970s with Tommy Lokey on trumpet, Rosco Smith on drums, O’Dell Stokes on guitar, and Chris Clayton on sax. The Wilson brothers started singing as children at their father’s church. GAP refers to Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, three streets in Tulsa’s historic Greenwood neighborhood.

In 1974, the band got their big break when they were hired to play backup on Leon Russell’s album, “Stop All That Jazz.” Throughout the summer of 1974, Russell toured the United States, performing in 35 cities over 120 days, with the Gap Band serving as both the opening act and his touring band. 

 

Their 1974 debut album, “Magician’s Holiday,” was recorded and produced at The Church Studio for Shelter Records. When you flip the album over, you’ll see a beautiful and iconic photo of The Church Studio.

 

In what was considered a major musical coup, producer Burt Sugarman signed Leon Russell to co-host NBC’s “Midnight Special,” which aired on July 26th, 1974. The episode was recorded at The Church Studio and Leon’s home in Tulsa. Russell joined the Gap Band for performances on “Alcatraz,” “Going Back,” “Smashed,” and “Streakers Ball.” The Gap Band performed “Tommy’s Groove,” “You Can Always Count on Me,” and “Magician’s Holiday.” Well-known, gravelly-voiced co-host Wolfman Jack interviewed Russell about how the Gap Band got started. Enjoy performance of Leon Russell and the Gap Band at The Church Studio here:

Following their Shelter years, the band achieved further recognition for its infectious funk and R&B style. Hits like “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Outstanding” became anthems of the era, displaying Charlie’s distinct voice and the band’s ability to create timeless material. 

Charlie Wilson’s solo career, after the Gap Band, confirmed his status as a music icon. His solo albums, such as “Uncle Charlie” and “Forever Charlie,” demonstrated his versatility as an artist. Charlie’s ability to blend soulful melodies with contemporary beats won over both longtime followers and new admirers. His most recent solo release, “Superman,in December 2023, is dedicated to Mahin, his wife of 28 years.

Nicknamed “Uncle Charlie” by Snoop Dogg, Charlie has mentored so many younger artists. Charlie Wilson’s journey is not just a story of musical accomplishment but also of resilience and prevailing over personal challenges. His ability to overcome adversity and continue creating music has inspired so many. He has collaborated with chart-topping artists including Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Tyler the Creator, and Nas, to name a few.

 

 

Charlie Wilson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is cause for celebration for Tulsans, his fans, and the music community, and signifies the lasting impact of his work with the Gap Band and as a solo artist. As an alumnus of The Church Studio, we couldn’t be more proud. 

Congratulations, Uncle Charlie!

Nancy Ruth

Nancy Ruth

Meet the woman behind the blog, Nancy Ruth, The Church Studio's PR and Development Director. During the week, she spends most of her time writing press releases and grants with a coffee in hand. She's passionate about music history and on a mission to share untold stories!

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