About 60 diehard fans of Charlie Wilson were patiently and anxiously seated in a backstage room at Nationwide Arena for their chance to have a moment with the R&B great…when all of a sudden there was a single scream from the back of the room. That scream turned into a few which snowballed into the room breaking out in applause as “Uncle Charlie” quietly and surprisingly entered from the back of the room. Their musical hero had arrived!
He went to the front of the room and addressed his fans with many thanks and great humility. After the brief hello, he moved to an adjoining room with an official Charlie Wilson backdrop, and the fans who somehow got the opportunity to meet the star formed an orderly line as each group went in to say hello and have their picture taken by an official tour photographer.
With that huge crowd reaction you would have thought they were meeting Paul McCartney or Stevie Wonder. In their world they were. Unless you take a good look at Wilson’s career, you know that Wilson has had a very successful career, but you may not realize his incredible and impressive accomplishments. He is a nine-time Grammy nominee, was named Billboard Magazine’s #1 Adult R&B Artist, his massive hit “You Are” stayed at the top of the charts for an amazing 13 weeks, and he received the Soul Train Icon Award that recognized his over 40 year career. His credits are certainly worthy of consideration for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, one of his biggest fans told me that she has started a campaign to get Wilson inducted into the Cleveland Hall. Even if she didn’t tell me, it would not be hard to figure out after looking at her t-shirt which had photos on both sides along with the words “Induct Charlie Wilson in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!”
He co-founded the iconic funk group The Gap Band with his brothers Ronnie and the late Robert Wilson. Together for 43 years and with such R&B and pop classics to their credit like “Early in the Morning,” “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops)” and their best known hit “You Dropped A Bomb On Me,” they called it quits in 2010. When Charlie embarked on a solo career, no one would have predicted his success would surpass his earlier success with his brothers. He would go on to have eight number one hits, would collaborate with Stevie Wonder, his ‘nephew’ Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake, T-Pain, Pharrell and others, and would write his autobiography which comes out next month. And he’s far from being done! No wonder his fans were so enthusiastic to meet the music legend.
As fans moved through the line for their photo, Charlie’s wife was nearby watching the festivities. She has been by his side since the mid-90’s when he went through his well-known rehab. His now wife was his personal counselor through those challenging times. Although he has been clean since the mid-90’s, she has a watchful eye to eliminate all unlikely temptation. When one guest tried to advance with his alcoholic beverage, he was told he would have to leave his drink behind but could retrieve it once he had gone through the line.
She also knew of the presentation we wanted to do long before her husband did, and was so impressed with the gift that she made sure we easily made our way to Charlie so we could express our appreciation for allowing us to host him along with his special guests KEM and Joe.
As a sign of our thanks, we presented Charlie with a personalized Columbus Blue Jackets robe, with his name on the back and the number 15 for the year 2015. Charlie LOVED the robe! He repeated several times how much he appreciated it! Before posing for a picture with The Arena Guy, he stated “I might have to wear this on stage at the end of my show! Keep an eye on Uncle Charlie!”
Will he actually wear it on stage? Will he come out for an encore wearing the robe? I wouldn’t be surprised! We will have to wait and see! How cool would that be?
Regardless, Nationwide Arena is hosting one of the legends of music tonight, and what an honor it is. Charlie Wilson. Wow. And if that one diehard fan’s efforts succeed, it won’t be long before he joins the other legends in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.