Soul and Funk Band Heat Wave to Perform August 9th
at Dane Dances on Monona Terrace’s Rooftop
Still Sizzling after All of These Years
|While the original members of Heat Wave have passed, the current
members led by lead singer Eugene Phillips who has been with the
band for 25 years will light up Monona Terrace’s Rooftop.
“Our music wasn’t just funk,” said Eugene Phillips, a 25-year member of the band who took over lead vocals after Heatwave co-founder Keith Wilder passed
away two years ago. “Our music isn’t just R & B. It’s not just love songs. It’s the whole spectrum and I believe that is why Heatwave is an international
group because it has such a wide appeal. It covers many races and countries and many generations, to be honest with you. It’s been lasting this long. The
music is still relevant and when were gone, the music will still be relevant because you just can’t replace real music. Today’s music is just not the same. It’
s not a slight on them, but modern technology has made it a lot easier to create some of the disposable music. They might have nice beats and melodies, but
not a whole lot of substance. It’s slowly, but surely coming back, I believe. The 1960s and 1970s music, I hope to see that come around again. Maybe it will
in my lifetime, maybe not.”
When people said that Heatwave had international appeal, it’s because Heatwave had an international cast of performers at a time when the United States
was still battling with segregation to the point where the band’s photo was not on its first release in the U.S. due to fears that it would not sell because it was
an interracial group.
“Heatwave has its roots partly in Britain and partly in Dayton, Ohio,” Phillips said. “Johnnie Wilder started a group in Dayton, Ohio. And when he went into the
service and was stationed in Germany, he and a buddy of his started another group. The name of the group was actually called Chicago Heatwave. They
dropped the Chicago later on. It has so many different members from different areas. Keith and Johnnie were both from Dayton, Ohio. Ernest ‘Bilbo’ Berger,
the drummer, was from Czechoslovakia. Mario Mantese, the bass player, was from Switzerland. Rod Temperton, our main song writer — who wrote Michael
Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’ ‘Rock with Me’ and other hits — and keyboardist who passed away about five years ago, was from the United Kingdom. We had a melting
pot, if you will, of different influences in music and that’s what worked.”
While they are all getting up there in age, Heatwave continues to tour.
By Jonathan Gramling
During my last year at Alcorn State University in 1977, it seemed like soul, R&B and funk
music were in a golden age of music that got anyone up onto their feet and dancing.
Stevie Wonder, the Commodores, Marvin Gaye, The O’Jays, Kool & the Gang,
Parliament, Earth, Wind & Fire and countless others filled the airwaves and propelled
many a house party until dawn.
One of those bands was Heat Wave, an international band with its foundation in the
United States and in Great Britain, with hits such as ‘Boogie Nights,’ ‘The Groove Line’
and ‘Now and Forever.’ While the original members of Heat Wave have passed on by
now, the spirit and funk of their music live on. And they will be helping Dane Dances
celebrate their 20th anniversary on Friday, August 9th on the Rooftop of Monona Terrace.
Heatwave has maintained its popularity and groove because of its versatility.
“We still do quite a bit of touring,” Phillips said. “We were just at
The Greek this past weekend in LA. We got a gig coming up soon
in Chicago and of course Madison. We will also be performing in
Stanford, Connecticut. We have some cruises coming up, so we
are staying busy. We still perform in Europe, but not as much as
we do in the United States. It’s a different kind of animal over
there with the Brexit situation. It has everything kind of crazy.
The money situation is really unstable. That’s a whole tricky
situation in London right now. Brexit has influenced the ability for
promoters to spend the money.”
The current members are keeping the grooves of Heatwave
alive because they played with the original members for many
years. While all of the original parts of this groove machine have
been replaced, Heatwave continues to churn out the funk.
“When we hit the stage, we do what Heatwave does,” Phillips
said. “It’s not that difficult to keep the spirit of Heatwave alive. It’
s like riding a bike. When we don’t compromise, the stage has to
keep moving and we have to keep the audience entertained. A
lot of groups don’t have a lot of choreography anymore because,
let’s face it, we’re all getting up there in age. We don’t do a
whole lot, but we still keep the stage moving. We don’t do flips
and somersaults like we used to. We can’t do that stuff no more.
But we keep the stage moving. We still have a lot of energy and
that’s what is important.”
When Heatwave performs on August 9th, don’t just come
expecting to listen to some classic tunes. Expect to be fully
“We’re really looking forward to performing in Madison,” Phillips
said. “It looks like the venue is beautiful. We never performed
there before. People should expect a good show. Expect some
energy. Come ready to have a good time. I will say this and I don’
t mean to be rude or anything like that. But if you don’t want to
have a good time, don’t come. We come to have fun. We come to
have fun and have a good time. Just come ready to party. Come
ready to have a good time and you will really enjoy yourself. We
expect people to get on their feet and start dancing, absolutely.
We’re going to come out there and dance with them if they aren’t
dancing. We’ll get ‘em up.”
When Dane Dances begins its 20th year on August 2nd, expect to
experience “Boogie Nights” all through August and you had
better be on ‘The Groove Line’ so that you’ll have fond memories
‘Now and Forever.’ Be there!