By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Published: 8/15/2010 11:38 PM
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 didnt 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 publicist.
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 Russell.
Leon came to my house and promised her hed get me a tutor. He wanted me on the road, he knew wed be a big thing, Wilson laughed during the interview last week. My mamma cooked him catfish, and we couldnt believe he was eating dinner with us in our house, he remembered of his early days. Wilsons 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 wasnt 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 groups hits include You Dropped A Bomb On Me, I Dont 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 Tisdales budding jazz career, he said.
Details on funeral and memorial arrangements have not been announced, said Jackson. Its 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.
Wilsons Facebook fan page hasnt 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 Gappers... 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 ....