Heatwave – Mind Blowing Decisions

20th July 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Disco, Music, Soul

Everyone knows them best for Boogie Nights but the Heatwave single I have in my collection is the 12-inch version of this sultry slow jam from 1978.

I never knew much (well, anything) about Heatwave but I learn now that they were a multi-national affair that began life in Germany and had a career touched by tragedy.

American brothers Johnnie and Keith Wilder began singing in bands when they were US servicemen there, and stayed on after they were discharged from the army.

Success came after they relocated to the UK to link up with songwriter/keyboardist Rod Temperton, adding Spanish bassist Mario Mantese, Czechoslovakian drummer Emest Berger, and American guitarists Jesse Whittens and Eric Johns to the line-up.

Jamming and ceaselessly touring the London club circuit allowed Heatwave to define and refine their music, eschewing straight disco beats for a sound that certainly contained that element, but fused it with a rich funk groove.

In 1976 tragedy struck just before they went into the studio with producer/session guitarist Barry Blue, who’d had his own string of hit singles including Dancing on a Saturday Night and Do You Wanna Dance in the early ’70s.

Whittens was murdered before the band had even begun work on their debut album and had to be replaced with rhythm guitarist Roy Carter.

A pair of singles appeared before they struck gold in January 1977 with the anthemic Boogie Nights, which reached No.2 in the singles chart.

Their next hit was a complete change of pace, with the smooth soul ballad Always and Forever, followed by Mind Blowing Decisions.

As they prepared to return to the studio for a follow-up album tragedy struck again when Mantese was stabbed by his girlfriend. He was clinically dead for several minutes, remained paralysed, and had no alternative but to leave the band, being replaced by Derek Bramble.

And just as it seemed that the band might finally put their misfortunes behind them, founder Johnnie Wilder was involved in a terrible car crash that left him paralysed from the neck down.

All of which makes them one of the unluckiest bands in music history.