A titan is defined as a person who is influential in a certain field. R&B legend Charlie Wilson fits the definition.
“It’s a rags to riches story but [also] riches to rags,” Wilson told the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper.
Wilson’s road to success was one filled with triumphs and tribulations. He tasted success early but drugs and alcohol almost took everything. His musical journey started at a young age.
“I had my own group with my brothers growing up in junior high school. We were beating some of the grown people on stage. We played and learned everyday,” Wilson said.
They eventually formed The Gap Band and moved to California.
“We met Leon Russell who was a big rock and roll star. We became his back up band which led us to the move to California,” Wilson said.
The Gap Band struck gold with a record deal. Their single “Shake” shot them into a new realm of prestige. The success was only temporary. Drugs and alcohol fizzled out Wilson’s newfound fame.
“I became homeless,“ Wilson said. His voice lowered as he explained the shift from selling millions of records to falling asleep on Hollywood concrete.
“I left with nothing in my hands. I was in a house and they started taking stuff out. They put padlocks on the house. I was on the streets for about three years.”
His fame didn’t leave. Wilson acknowledged people would still recognize him. A homeless family protected him from onlookers.
“They let me sleep with them and created a bed for me,” Wilson said.
“Some people would walk up and recognize me. They would push them away and allowed me to sleep in peace. They would protect me from people.”
Wilson’s father was a pastor. He contributes his strong faith as a driving force to his sobriety.
“I prayed every single day. I asked God not to let the dark side kill me when I was in the streets. If you are the same God that my father has preached to all these years, please take these drugs away from me,” Wilson said.
His prayers were answered. Wilson went to rehab with the help of his cousin. His road to sobriety began to unravel. At this point, he was visibly malnourished.
“It was the worst thing I [have] ever seen. I even took a picture of it,” Wilson said. He let out his larger than life laugh and continued.
“At that time I let somebody dye my hair blonde. I look like a matchstick. I was so skinny!” Wilson jokingly said.
He struggled through the first round of rehab. Wilson would secretly take drugs while following the program. A rehab worker eventually intervened.
“She asked what I planned on doing afterwards. I just broke down. I had nowhere to go. I’ve been to several rehab centers before that. If I went back out, I would’ve surely died,” Wilson said.
This realization prompted him to go back in his room and pray. It was there he found all his drugs gone. Somehow his pipe burst. He contributes his prayer as the result.
“I went back to the lady, her name is Mahin, and she helped me find a place. She paid for it and put furniture in the house. That was twenty-three years ago. I ended up marrying her that year. She is now my wife,” Wilson said.
Wilson was now married, sober, and itching for new music. His road to recovery finally began. From that moment, the superstar was back to his success.
“Uncle Charlie,” the nickname given to him by Snoop Dogg, continues to reign supreme in his profession. The R&B legend was honored at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards with the first ever Music Makes A Difference Award. He has collaborated with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, T.I, and many more. His latest album, “In it To Win It,” granted him two number one singles on the Billboard charts.
Wilson currently has 10 number one singles, 11 Grammy award nominations, a New York Times best-selling memoir and an ongoing arena tour. The Charlie Wilson with The O’jays Tour will stop at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, Aug. 3 and Saturday, Aug. 4 with a full orchestra.
Wilson doesn’t plan on slowing down despite his age.
“My father would prophesize over me saying that I had something big coming. I would fight back and say, well people say I’m too old and he would say don’t listen to them. He said God showed it to me,” Wilson continued.
“He said keep the faith and it has been happening ever since.”
For tickets go to www.charliewilsonmusic.com