Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Charlie Wilson began singing and playing in his father's Pentacostal church at an early age, along with his brothers Ronnie and Robert. They all learned various instruments but were strongly encouraged to concentrate on the piano. As much as they despised the lessons at the time, it proved to be a valuable tool for all three. After playing in rival bands, the brothers decided to join forces and form their own band, taking their name from three streets -- Greenwood, Archer, and Pine -- in their neighborhood. As advertising such a name on posters became too lengthy, the group shortened the name to the G.-A.-P. Street Band. Due to a typographical error, the group was advertised as GAP Band and it stuck.
The brothers met Leon Russell in 1974, who signed them to his Shelter label; this led to a recording session with A&M, a self-titled debut on Tattoo/RCA, and a deal with Mercury. A string of R&B Top Ten hits followed, including "Shake," "Steppin' Out," "I Don't Believe You Want to Get Up," and "Dance (Oops, Up Side Your Head)." The latter was inspired at a concert in Pittsburgh where some kids were chanting the groove and the band picked up on it. In December of 1980, the trio earned their first number one single with "Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" and followed it with the Top Five ballad "Yearning for Your Love."
From that promising beginning, the group went on to score three more number one songs ("Early in the Morning," "Outstanding," and "All of My Love"), three more number two songs ("You Dropped a Bomb on Me", "Beep a Freak," and "Going in Circles"), and a horde of Top Ten hits. The group has remained together ever since, actively recording and touring the U.S. and abroad. In the ensuing years, Charlie Wilson has been one of the most sought after vocalists in the music industry. He has worked with Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, the Eurythmics, Snoop Dogg, and scores of others before launching a solo career in 2000.