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The platinum-selling band earned fans here and abroad in the 1970s and ’80s.
“We went through a lot, me and Keith. We traveled the world together with the band. We had some really good times,” Jones said.
A 1979 car accident made the shining star a quadriplegic, but he continued to make music his life, working with students at Central State University.
Heatwave member Rod Temperton died of cancer in London in October of 2016.
Now based in the Atlanta area, Keith Wilder often visited his hometown to see his mother and other relatives, Jones said.
He had suffered health problems, his cousin said.
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He said Wilder died in his sleep.
Memorabilia from Heatwave is a part of the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center, which is set to open at 113 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton's Fire Block District.
“The Funk Center sends (its) condolences to the family of Keith Edward Wilder, lead singer of the Funk group Heatwave. Our prayers go out to the Wilder family in Dayton, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia,” a statement from Funk Center CEO David R. Webb reads.
Grammy-winning Dayton funk legend Keith Harrison of Faze-O and Dazz Band fame was a member of Heatwave during the band's last two albums.
He has known Wilder and his family since their high school days.
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“Keith was a great person. He had a lot charisma, a lot of laughter. Very pleasant at all time,” Harrison said. “It’s just so devastating. We had great times. That’s what I try to remember while praying for his family, such a close-knit family.”
Jones said he is happy that his cousin’s legacy will live on through his music.
“I am at a loss for words. We are going to miss his voice,” Jones said. “He had a great voice, but we can always put on a record and hear it.”
A viewing will be held 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5 at Gregory B. Levett Funeral Home
914 Scenic Highway, Lawrenceville, Ga.
A funeral is planned for 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 6 at Bridge Pointe Church, 285 Victory Dr. SE, Marietta, Ga.
Flowers and/or donations to Positive Impact International are being accepted.
The Wilder family-founded nonprofit provides free and/or affordable access to music and the arts to kids of all ages.
Additional information can be found at thepositiveimpact.org.