The legendary musician and founding member of The Gap Band was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday
R&B icon Charlie Wilson experienced a moving full circle moment when he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The frontman of the legendary R&B-funk group The Gap Band, 71, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles on Monday where he was honored with a ceremony that included speeches from stars like Snoop Dogg and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.
As Wilson revealed while accepting the coveted honor, receiving a star meant a great deal to him — since he had overcome drug addiction and homelessness on those same streets of Hollywood in the early ‘90s.
“This recognition holds this very special place in my heart, as it symbolizes a journey that started many, many years ago,” the musician told the crowd, which included star-studded attendees like Kayne West, Tyler, the Creator, Ty Dolla $ign and others.
After telling a heartfelt story about how excited he felt when he saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the first time while The Gap Band visited L.A. to record the debut, Magician’s Holiday, in 1974 — and how he met Stevie Wonder the following day — Wilson opened up about how he’s been sober for 29 years.
“Life has a way of testing us, and after the success of The Gap Band, I found myself homeless on the streets of Hollywood. I could probably take 80 steps. And it was one of them side streets. I was hiding, and sleeping under cars,” he shared. “It was during those challenging times, that I realized God had a plan for me. He broke me down to build me back up again, and I'm forever grateful for that experience.”
The Grammy-nominated artist explained that his “journey of self discovery” led him to meet his wife Mahin Wilson, who he called the love of his life and listened to his speech from the crowd of the star unveiling. “She was one of the counselors and the doctor at the rehab facility where I sought help. She played a pivotal role in the turn of my life around,” he said.
The recording artist known as “Uncle Charlie” continued, “Today, I stand before you as a man who been sober for 29 years. No relapse, one day at a time, 29 years, seven days a week, no days apart from that lady right there.”
Wilson went on to thank his wife Mahin Tat, members of his team and collaborators at the event, which was emceed by Jimmy Jam and held on his birthday.
He concluded, “This star represents not only my journey, but also the power of resilience, faith and unwavering support of those who believe in you. Thank you all for being a part of this incredible moment. I am truly blessed and highly favored, and I look forward to continuing to share my music and my story with the world.”
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Wilson's longtime manager Michael Paran, Edmonds, 64, Pharrell Williams via live stream and Snoop Dogg, 52, all shared touching tributes. The "Drop It Like It's Hot" rapper, in particular, told a heartfelt story about how he credits the "There Goes My Baby" singer with saving his marriage.
The hitmaker first rose to fame with The Gap Band, which he co-founded with his brothers Ronnie and Robert Wilson in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma in the late 1960s. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the beloved funk band went on to release hits like "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Party Train” and "Burn Rubber," among others, and eventually saw nine of their albums go platinum.
The group’s sound went on to influence a handful of hip-hop artists — many of whom have sampled their tracks over the years. Their song “Outstanding,” for example, has been sampled by over 150 artists, including Tina Turner, Madonna and Usher.
In the ‘90s, Wilson launched a successful solo career — garnering 13 total Grammy nominations over the years and a Soul Train Icon Award in 2009.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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