Keith Wilder, Co-Founder of Heatwave, Dead at 68
Funk flags are raised high today as we bid adieu to a legend.
According to multiple reports (DC’s Majic 102.3 and a Questlove Instagram send-up) Heatwave‘s Keith Wilder has passed. The singer was 68 years old.
Together with his late brother, Johnnie Wilder Jr. and legendary English producer, Rod Temperton, Wilder forged the foundational funk and disco outfit of both stateside players and cross-pond cadets in 1975, recording six studio albums between 1975 and 1988, though their final album, The Fire, was recorded without Wilder’s brother, who was rendered paralyzed from the neck down following a tragic 1979 car accident.
The intercontinental crew was responsible for a grip of era-defining hits and classic sample fodder for the subsequent generation of hip-hop producers, including “Boogie Nights,” “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’,” “The Groove Line” and the timeless ballad “Always and Forever.” After his brother’s paralysis, Wilder and the band would continue to tour and record, before officially disbanding at the end of the 80s. In their few reunion tours since, Wilder served as the only original member of the band to grace the stage.
In his post, Questlove noted that every stunning lead of that vocals-first disco era had a meatier, sturdier voice in the arrangement as a backbone. Keith Wilder was that for his brother and the era.