Charlie Wilson gets star on  Hollywood Walk of Fame

Wave Wire Services

HOLLYWOOD — A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was unveiled Jan. 29 honoring Grammy-nominated artist Charlie Wilson, a co-founder and lead singer of the Gap Band, successful solo artist and outspoken activist urging Black men to be tested for prostate cancer.

Jimmy Jam Harris emceed the ceremony in front of the Eastown apartments at 6201 Hollywood Blvd. Among those who spoke at the event were Wilson’s manager and president/CEO of P Music Group Michael Paran, Grammy winner Babyface and frequent Wilson collaborator Snoop Dogg.

The ceremony took place on Wilson’s 71st birthday, on the same street where Wilson used to sleep while homeless due to drug and alcohol addiction in the 1990s.

“It’s truly an honor to stand before you as I accept this prestigious star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” Wilson said during the ceremony. “This recognition holds a very special place in my heart as it symbolizes a journey that started many, many years ago.”

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wilson and his brothers would often sing in church, where their father was a minister and their mother accompanied them on piano. The brothers — Charlie, Robert and Ronnie — later joined forces to create the Gap Band, releasing their debut album in 1974.

The band was best known for hits including “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Oops Upside Your Head” and “Yearning for Your Love.” The band churned out 15 albums before finally disbanding in 2010, but by then Charlie Wilson had already launched a solo career, starting with his first album “Bridging the Gap” in 2000.

Despite his success with the Gap Band, Wilson fell victim to cocaine and alcohol, with his addiction leaving him homeless and living on the streets of Hollywood in the mid-1990s.

“It was during those challenging times that I realized that God had a plan for me,” Wilson said. “He broke me down to build me up again, and I am forever grateful for that experience.”

While in rehab, he met Mahin Tat, a social worker at the drug rehabilitation program where he was being treated. The pair married in 1995.

“She played a pivotal role in turning my life around,” Wilson said. “Today, I stand before you as a man who has been sober for 29 years. … I owe it all to her unwavering support and love.”

Wilson has been a fixture throughout his career on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. He worked with some of the biggest names in the genre in 2010 when he collaborated with Kanye West on his album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” His work with West led him to collaborate with artists including Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Rihanna and Common.

Snoop Dogg spoke directly to Wilson during the ceremony, thanking him for his friendship.

“This man right here means the world to me, not just musically but personally,” he said. “We love your music so much. We love what you stand for, and this is so overdue. You deserve this star.”

Wilson received a BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. He has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards during his career and has also received a Soul Train Icon Award and an NAACP Music Makes a Difference Award.

During the ceremony, Babyface spoke about Wilson’s vocal power and recalled a time when he was invited to perform with the legendary singer.

“I didn’t want to go on stage to sing with you, and I stood beside him, and as he was singing, it was like a train was hitting me, and I promised myself I would never share the stage with Charlie again,” Babyface said, drawing laugher from the crowd.

Wilson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, but thanks to early detection and treatment, he has been cancer-free for 16 years. His experiences prompted him to partner with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and he has worked to encourage Black men to get tested to increase the chances of early detection. He has also regularly taken part in Stand Up 2 Cancer fundraising telethons.

“This star represents not only my journey but also the power of resilience, faith and unwavering support of those who believe in you,” Wilson said.