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"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave"
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 USA (Studio A); 1963
Genre Soul/pop
Length 2:47
Label Gordy
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland-Dozier-Holland
Producer Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier
Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology
"Come and Get These Memories"
"(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave"

"Heat Wave" is a 1963 hit single by Holland-Dozier-Holland made popular by Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas on the Gordy (Motown) label and later by Rock vocalist Linda Ronstadt from her Platinum 1975 album Prisoner In Disguise. It is sometimes called "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave," although that was not the title on the 1963 single.[1]



The song was one of several tunes written and produced by the fabled Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting and producing team. "Heat Wave" was the second hit collaboration between the Vandellas and H-D-H, the first being "Come and Get These Memories". The lyrics feature the narrator singing about a guy that has her heart "burning with desire" and "going insane" over the feeling of his love.

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 being the "Motown Sound". The single was a breakthrough hit, peaking at number four on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, and at number-one on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.[2]. It also garnered the group's only Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for 1964, making The Vandellas the first Motown group ever to receive a Grammy Award Nomination.


Covers and influence

"Heat Wave's" success helped popularize both Martha and the Vandellas and Holland-Dozier-Holland, and cemented Motown as a musical force. The song has since been covered by several acts, including labelmate The Supremes (on their 1967 album The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland), The Jam (on their 1979 album Setting Sons), The Who in their early concerts and on their second album, A Quick One, Joan Osbourne (her version done for the Funk Brothers documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown), and rocker Bruce Springsteen. The song was also covered by Whoopi Goldberg in the film Sister Act. It is also featured at the beginning of the film Backdraft. A rare New Zealand cover was recorded in the late 1980s to promote the Lemon & Paeroa drink brand. [1] It's been covered four times on American Idol, by Kimberley Locke, Jennifer Hudson, Vonzell Solomon, and Lil Rounds. The song was also sampled by R&B singer Solange Knowles in her 2008 single "I Decided".

In a 2007 DVD entitled "The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic," songwriter John Sebastian illustrates how he sped up the three-chord intro from this song to come up with the intro to his 1965 hit for The Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe in Magic."

It was used as the opening song to the 1979 film More American Graffiti, sequel to George Lucas' 1973 film American Graffiti

Linda Ronstadt version

"Heat Wave"
Single by Linda Ronstadt
from the album Prisoner in Disguise
B-side Love is a Rose
Released September 1975
Format 7" single
Recorded The Sound Factory, Los Angeles, February 1975
Genre Rock
Label Asylum
G 7022
Writer(s) Holland-Dozier-Holland
Producer Peter Asher
Andrew Gold
Linda Ronstadt singles chronology
"When Will I Be Loved"
"Heat Wave"
"Tracks of My Tears"

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt, who'd had previous success already covering former R&B and Motown hits, included a cover of the song on her album Prisoner in Disguise. Released as the album's first single, it reached reached #5 on the Hot 100 Pop chart, and became a staple of her concert set lists. On Ronstadt's version, both album and single releases listed the song simply as "Heat Wave", omitting "(Love is Like A)" from the title.

Preceded by
"Fingertips" Part 2 by Stevie Wonder
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
September 14, 1963 – October 5, 1963 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 378.  ; Discogs photo, accessed July 13, 2009. Archived 2009-07-20.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 378.  


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