Music stars Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Babyface and Tyler, The Creator were among those celebrating R&B singer Charlie Wilson as he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame where he once slept as a homeless man.
The 13-time Grammy nominee was honoured with a star in the category of recording on his 71st birthday, as a huge crowd of fans gathered in Los Angeles with birthday balloons and banners.
Wilson was lead singer of the Gap Band for a decade, earning acclaim for hits including You Dropped A Bomb On Me and Early In The Morning.
After finding fame with the group, Wilson was left homeless and struggling with addiction on the streets of Hollywood, until he ended up in a rehabilitation centre where he met his wife – a counsellor at the facility.
During the Walk of Fame ceremony, Wilson celebrated 29 years of sobriety and praised his wife Mahin, who he described as his “rock, inspiration and guiding light”, as well as rapper Snoop Dogg for helping him get back on his feet.
“To my Snoop, my nephew, you and your family mean the world to me,” Wilson said.
“You’re a man of your word, and have been instrumental to my comeback in music. You always done everything you could do to elevate me… when some people would say no, you would make them say yes. What did you do to them, man?” he joked.
Wilson landed his solo first hit, Beautiful, in collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams in 2003, which won him a Grammy nomination, and his first solo album, Charlie, Last Name Wilson, was released two years later.
Snoop Dogg said: “Charlie Wilson, this man right here means the world to me, not just musically but personally, especially in terms of me and my wife.
“There were certain phases in my life where I felt like I should be by myself, I should do this alone, and Charlie was the only one man enough to pull me to the side and let me know… to get back home, you’ve got the greatest woman in the world, you’ve got a family.
“He showed me, he taught me, not just by saying it but by showing me, so I appreciate you for showing me family values.”
Among the surprise guests was West, known as Ye, who was wearing all black including a full face mask and latex gloves.
During the ceremony, a pre-recorded video from Happy singer Williams was shown to the audience.
Wearing a white cowboy hat, Williams said: “This man has continued to move our souls… thank you for continuously inspiring us song after song… it’s incredible what you’re able to do, you’re still crushing it.”
Wilson, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, has been an advocate for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, having lived cancer-free for 16 years through early detection and treatment.
He has performed in two Stand Up To Cancer telethons, and documented his experiences in 2015 autobiography I Am Charlie Wilson.