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Sadly, we must report on the passing of Keith Edward Wilder, one of the founders and co-lead singer of the legendary funk/R&B band Heatwave.

According to various reports as well as postings on his Facebook page, Wilder – an Atlanta resident – passed away over the weekend. He was 68. As of this posting, the details associated with his death have not been made public.

Heatwave, of course, came on the scene in 1976, with their debut album Too Hot To Handle featuring the hits “Boogie Nights,” “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” and their classic ballad “Always and Forever.”

In 1978, they experienced even more hits with their 2nd album Central Heating which featured “The Groove Line,” and “Mind Blowing Decisions.”

Unfortunately, Heatwave received a crushing blow the following year when lead singer and Keith Wilder’s brother, Johnnie Wilder Jr., was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident. He died in 2006 as detailed in the Heatwave “Unsung” episode, which aired on TV One.

Here’s Questlove paying homage to the band:


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The Holy #Heatwave trinity comes to a sad close. In 1980 the (sun?) #JohnnieWilder the bright falsetto light (and harmony monster) was in a horrific motorcycle accident which rendered him paralyzed & down for the count from being in the group full time. He fought the good fight but passed away back in 2006. The Spirit of the band was mastermind #RodTemperton whose work with Heateave prompted Quincy Jones to hire him to in hopes of passing MJ some of that magic: enter #OffTheWall #RockWithYou #Thriller #BabyBeMine #BurnThisDiscoOut & #TheLadyInMyLife… not to mention #YahMoBeThere #SweetFreedom #GiveMeTheNight #BabyComeToMe @Oprah’s Theme (that clip of Carlton jamming to it on #FPOBA still cracks me up) & Anita Baker’s killer #Mystery on her Rapture album (let’s not forget his own band’s #TheGrooveLine #BoogieNights #StarOfTheStory #AintNoHalfSteppin & of course #AlwaysAndForever the best love song ever that allowed Johnnie the space to flex and show off his adlibs that remain w us to this day) Sadly til now the father #KeithWilder was holding down the fort. Actively holding the legacy torch of the band he founded w his late brother. Johnnie was a MONSTER singer whose harmony game is unmatched. No REAL singer worth their grain of salt NEVER denied his mastery. Temperton was the god not just writing “hits” (hits doesn’t always equal “quality”) he created beautiful art (even as cheesy as Thriller was supposed to be, he navigated it carefully and truly landed it as a historical landmark of a song. Damn near making MJ the Halloween king (peep Off The Wall’s intro which also attempted that challenge 3 yrs earlier). Keith sang on ALOT of my fav Heatwave joints (Boogie Nights, Groove Line, One Night Tan, & the dramatic epic Therm Warfare) he was the gruff voiced counterpart to his younger brother’s velvet smoothness. Edwards to Kendricks, Jermaine to Michael, Gorrie to Stuart, White to Bailey, Levert to Williams practically EVERY monster soul group gave you more than one vocalist to focus on. Shame that all 6 of their albums aren’t available to listen to (aye @Sony where the hell js #HotProperty!?) let’s keep his light alive & celebrate his art. rip Keith Wilder!

A post shared by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on



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8 thoughts on “Heatwave’s Sad Chapter Comes To A Close With Death Of Keith Wilder

  1. mr soul on said:

    Let’s not be sad we all have to go there just think heaven with all them singing 24 7 party with Wilder ,Sam Cooke ,MJ ,Prince, and on ,on !!!

  2. Leah Mack on said:

    I have grooved to many of the aforementioned songs, and will surly miss the talents of Mr. Wilder, thanks Mr. JOYNER for sharing this info, love you and may God bless you and your family😋😊😍😎

  3. If you didn’t get on your feet when Groove Line came on, you probably weren’t breathing. And if Always And Forever didn’t get them draws off, She just wasn’t into you. Every time we lose one of our great masters, it makes me sad for coming generations who, if are not taught, will never know real music.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    Wow! I’m sorry to hear this. This is one AMAZINGLY talented filled group. Hands down better than anything anybody has produced in the last 20 plus years. Yes, there were great hits by great singers, but this group of mixed backgrounds and people who “just met” because they were at the same place at the same time, made this look easy. I love their sound from the word go. Other than EWF, oh and there are a few others, I could put their songs on “repeat” and listen for hours on top of hours and wouldn’t get bored. Unfortunately, they don’t make great music like this anymore, I feel sad for the new generations. RIP brotha Wilder.

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