Heatwave is a multi-ethnic disco-funk band, formed in 1975, by Johnnie Wilder, a former American serviceman. At the time Wilder began performing, he was still in West Germany. Together with his brother, Keith, they started jamming in bars, discos, although the two of them never ceased dreaming of becoming more than a mini-band performing in clubs. It wasn’t long before they first moved to the States and fortified the team with members of different nationalities, which made them sound so peculiar.
The band that’s “too hot to handle”
The funky fresh sound of Heatwave was so catchy in a Disco Era when all people wanted was to dance. The band released some memorable singles ideal for the dance floor – they got together like coffee and milk. They were the perfect representation of diversity worldwide. J. Wilder’s vision came true, but the band’s path was a difficult one. Just before recording their first album, guitarist Jesse Whitten was killed. The tragedy hit hard, but the charismatic boys continued to sing with passion. When Rod Temperton, a famous British songwriter, joined the team, Heatwave began to spring into life.
1976 – that’s when they released “Too Hot to Handle”, their first album. This was the confirmation that Heatwave was here to stay. The single “Boogie Nights” is still the band’s most epic song, best positioned in charts all over the world (it made it to number 2 in England, Canada and America and number 1 in New Zealand).
No tragedy could stop the Heatwave
Despite their success on stage, the group was surrounded by tragedy – it seemed to follow them everywhere. Two years after their first big success, Mario Mantese, bass player, was killed by his girlfriend, while the lead vocalist was left paralysed after a car accident. The odds were against the music, and they gradually become silent. However, Heatwave was back on stage in 1988, when they released “The Fire”, and began touring in England and the rest of Europe. Heatwave remains one of the most emblematic disco bands, a proof that music can prevail despite tragedy and social pressure.