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!
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