Heat Wave (Martha and the Vandellas song)

"Heat Wave"

A-side label of one of U.S. vinyl releases
Single by Martha and the Vandellas
from the album Heat Wave
B-side "A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)"
Released July 9, 1963
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A), 1963
Genre Soul
Length 2:47
Label Gordy
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier
Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology
"Come and Get These Memories"
"Heat Wave"

"Heat Wave" is a 1963 song penned by the Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting team. The song was first made popular by the American Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas.[1] Released as a single on July 9, 1963, on the Motown subsidiary label Gordy, it peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B chart. It was later covered by rock vocalist Linda Ronstadt on her Platinum-selling 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise. Ronstadt's version of the song was also released as a single in September 1975, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2010, English singer Phil Collins had success with his Top 40 remake of the song on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

Martha and the Vandellas version


"Heat Wave" was one of many songs written and produced by the Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting and producing team. It was the second hit collaboration between Martha and the Vandellas and the team, with the first being "Come and Get These Memories". The lyrics of "Heat Wave" feature the song's narrator singing about a guy who has her heart "burning with desire" and "going insane" over the feeling of his love, and asking, "is this the way love's supposed to be?"[1] The song is often referred to as "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave", but the title on the label of the original 1963 single was just "Heat Wave".[2]

Produced and composed with a gospel backbeat, jazz overtones and, doo-wop call and responsive vocals, "Heat Wave" was one of the first songs to exemplify the style of music later termed as the "Motown Sound". The single was a breakthrough hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.[3] It also garnered the group's only Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording for 1964,[4] making the Vandellas the first Motown group ever to receive a Grammy Award nomination.

Some versions of the song have a radio edit that cuts out the repetition of the ending of the instrumental portion of the song, which is in one key, featuring the repeated saxophone and electric piano portion. In a version issued on the compilation Gold, the instrumental is extended as well as the ending portion, which includes Reeves singing more ad-libs while her group mates continue to sing the word "burning" repeatedly.

The Martha and the Vandellas version was featured in the 1970 film The Boys in the Band, in a scene in which several of the characters perform an impromptu line dance to the recording. The success of "Heat Wave" helped popularize both Martha and the Vandellas and Holland-Dozier-Holland,[1] while cementing Motown as a strong musical force.

In a 2007 DVD entitled "The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic", author Sebastian illustrates how he sped up the three-chord intro from "Heat Wave" to come up with the intro to "Do You Believe in Magic".


Chart performance

Weekly chart (1963) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 4
U.S. R&B Chart 1

Year-end chart (1963) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [5] 32

Linda Ronstadt version

"Heat Wave"
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Prisoner in Disguise
B-side Love Is a Rose
Released September, 1975 (Debuted on the Hot 100 the week ending September 20)
Format 7" single
Recorded The Sound Factory, Los Angeles 1975
Genre Rock, classic rock
Length 2:46
Label Asylum
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Peter Asher
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology
"When Will I Be Loved"/
"It Doesn't Matter Anymore"
"Heat Wave/
"Love Is a Rose"
"Tracks of My Tears"


Linda Ronstadt remade "Heat Wave" for her album Prisoner in Disguise which was recorded at The Sound Factory in Hollywood between February and June 1975 and released that October. Ronstadt's sideman Andrew Gold told Rolling Stone: "[her] band had been trying to get Linda to add it to her [live] set for quite awhile [sic]...one night at a Long Island club called My Father's Place we received six encores and we'd run of tunes. One of us yelled out 'Heat Wave in D' and we did it. [The band was] awfully sloppy but the crowd really liked it. So we kept the song in our set."

Michael Epstein the manager of My Father's Place states he was responsible for Ronstadt's singing "Heat Wave" at his club: when Ronstadt went backstage after advising the audience she and the band had no more material Epstein says he suggested Ronstadt perform "Heat Wave" writing down the lyrics and playing some chords on a guitar to help her band improvise.[6]

According to the Rolling Stone article the perfectionism of Ronstadt's producer Peter Asher "led to many, many hours of work on 'Heat Wave' in a process that would [likely] amuse the old-line Motown musicians involved in the almost assembly-line approach that resulted in hits including Martha and the Vandellas' 1963 recording of the song."[7]

Although Ronstadt had made her Top Ten breakthrough in 1975 with remakes of the 1960s hits "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved", the lead single from Prisoner in Disguise was the original Neil Young composition "Love Is a Rose" with "Heat Wave" relegated to the B-side of the single which was released in August 1975. However pop radio disc jockeys preferred "Heat Wave" which rose to a #5 peak in November 1975, while "Love Is a Rose" received support from C&W radio reaching #5 on the C&W chart in Billboard magazine.

Chart performance

Weekly chart (1975) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles 12
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[8] 4
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 19
Year-end chart (1975) Position
Canada 68

Phil Collins version

"(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
Single by Phil Collins
from the album Going Back
B-side "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer"
Released 6 September 2010
Format 7" single
Recorded Dinemec Studio, Geneva, 2009/2010
Genre Pop
Length 2:53
Label Atlantic
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Phil Collins
Phil Collins singles chronology
"Don't Let Him Steal Your Heart Away"
"(Love Is Like a) Heatwave"
"Going Back"


In 2010, Phil Collins remade "Heat Wave" for his cover album, Going Back, with the track serving as lead single, the first Phil Collins' single release in over five years. Except for the Carole King/Gerry Goffin-penned title cut and that team's "Some of Your Lovin'" - both Dusty Springfield hits - and also Collins' take on Curtis Mayfield's "Talking About My Baby", Going Back comprised Collins' remakes of Motown classics with the session personnel featuring three members of The Funk Brothers, Bob Babbitt, Ray Monette, and Eddie Willis; Collins would say: "To be able to have three of the surviving Funk Brothers play on all the tracks was unbelievable. There was one moment when they were tracking 'Heat Wave' that I experienced a wave of happiness and wonder that this was actually happening to me!".[9]

On 31 July 2010, Atlantic Records unveiled the music video to support Collins' "Heat Wave"[10] with the singer shown performing the song with a large ensemble of musicians and backing vocalists who performed with him during several showcases promoting the album in the summer of 2010.

Track listing

  1. "(Love Is Like a) Heatwave" – 2:53
  2. "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" – 2:59


Chart performance

Weekly chart (2010) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[11] 52
Germany (Official German Charts)[12] 30
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[13] 82
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[14] 16
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[15] 39
Japan Hot 100 (Billboard) 37
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[16] 28

Cover versions

Kids Incorporated covered "Love Is Like a Heatwave" in 1984 in the Season 1 episode "Dance Palace". They covered the song again in 1985 in the Season 2 episode "Decade of Hits". Kids Incorporated sang "Love Is Like a Heatwave" one last time in 1988 in the Season 5 episode "Kahuna Kids". The Supremes released a cover version of "Love Is Like a Heatwave" in 1967 on their tenth album The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland.

See also



External links

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