‘Classic Wonder’

Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision. Stevie Wonder

You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is just one of those guys that completely delivers everything that you want to be true about Stevie Wonder. He’s an amazing human being, and the fairytale exists with that man. Adam Levine

Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950 as Stevland Hardaway Judkins), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer and songwriter.

A child prodigy, he developed into one of the most creative and loved musical figures of the late 20th century.

Blind since shortly after birth, Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of eleven and continues to perform and record for Motown as of the early 2010s.  Among Wonder’s best known works are singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.

Ronnie White of The Miracles gives credit to his brother Gerald White for persistently nagging him to come to his friend’s house in 1961 to check out Stevie Wonder.

Afterward, White brought Wonder and his mother to Motown. Impressed by the young musician, Motown CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown’s Tamla label with the name Little Stevie Wonder.

Producer Clarence Paul gave Wonder his trademark name after stating “we can’t keep calling him the eighth wonder of the world”. He then recorded the regional Detroit single, “I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues”, which was released on Tamla in late 1961.

Wonder released his first two albums, The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie and Tribute to Uncle Ray, in 1962, to little success.

Stevie Wonder doing ‘We Can Work It Out’ by the Beatles is one of my favorite songs of all time. Mark Ronson

First of all, I’m no better than the next person. Stevie Wonder

Studio Discography
1963 Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius
1966 Up-Tight
1966 Down to Earth
1967 I Was Made to Love Her


1968 For Once in My Life
1969 My Cherie Amour
1970 Signed, Sealed, and Delivered
1971 Where I’m Coming From
1972 Music of My Mind

Music of My Mind showcases Wonder’s earlier experiments with the synthesizer, and is a more assured recording than Where I’m Coming From (his first effort while holding the majority of artistic control). Also on display were his increasing musical ambitions, with him leveraging different genres of music and utilizing longer song forms.

Wonder played all of the instruments on this album except trombone by Art Baron and guitar by Howard “Buzz” Feiten.

The texture of the album was different from anything he had released on the Motown label to that point. Standout tracks include “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)”, “Happier Than The Morning Sun” and “I Love Every Little Thing About You”.

1972 Talking Book



The cover depicts Wonder with cornrows, Indian jewelry and a velvet afghan.

Talking Book saw Wonder enjoying more artistic freedom from Motown. Guest appearances include Jeff Beck, Ray Parker, Jr., David Sanborn, and Buzz Feiten.

The sound of the album is sharply defined by Wonder’s keyboard work, especially with the synthesizers he incorporated, giving a funky edge to tracks like “Maybe Your Baby”.

His use of the Hohner clavinet model C on “Superstition” is widely regarded as one of the definitive tracks featuring the instrument.

On an episode of the children’s television show Sesame Street that aired in April 1973,Wonder and his band performed “Superstition”, as well as an original song called “Sesame Street Song”, which demonstrated his abilities with the “talk box”.

His swinging clavinet and harmonica embellishments on “Big Brother”, though, defy categorization.

1973 Innervisions



The nine tracks of Innervisions encompass a wide range of themes and issues: from drug abuse in “Too High,” through social anger in “Living for the City,” to love in the ballads “All in Love is Fair” and “Golden Lady.”

Three days after the commercial release of Innervisions, on August 6, Wonder played a concert in Greenville, South Carolina. While on the way back, just outside Durham, North Carolina, Wonder was asleep in the front seat of a car being driven by his friend, John Harris, when they were snaking along the road, behind a truck loaded high with logs. Suddenly the trucker jammed on his brakes, and the two vehicles collided. Logs went flying, and one smashed through the wind shield, sailing squarely into Stevie Wonder’s forehead. He was bloody and unconscious when he was pulled from the wrecked car. For four days he lay in a coma caused by severe brain contusion, causing media attention and the preoccupation of relatives, friends and fans. It was his friend and tour director Ira Tucker who first elicited some response from him:


… I remember when I got to the hospital in Winston-Salem. Man, I couldn’t even recognize him. His head was swollen up about five times normal size. And nobody could get through to him. I knew that he likes to listen to music really loud and I thought maybe if I shouted in his ear it might reach him. The doctor told me to go ahead and try, it couldn’t hurt him. The first time I didn’t get any response, but the next day I went back and I got right down in his ear and sang Higher Ground. His hand was resting on my arm and after a while his fingers started going in time with the song. I said yeah, yeah!! This dude is going to make it!
—Ira Tucker

Wonder’s climb back to health was still very long and slow. When he regained consciousness, he discovered that he had lost his sense of smell (from which he later largely recovered). He was deeply afraid that he might have lost his musical faculty, too. … We brought one of his instruments—I think it was the clavinet—to the hospital. For a while, Stevie just looked at it, or didn’t do anything with it. You could see he was afraid to touch it, because he didn’t know if he still had it in him—he didn’t know if he could still play. And then, when he finally did touch it… man, you could just see the happiness spreading all over him. I’ll never forget that. —Ira Tucker

interviewed by The New York Times that “the accident opened my ears up to many things around me. Naturally, life is just more important to me now… and what I do with my life”.

  Confirming Stevie’s belief in destiny, Michael Sembello, Wonder’s lead guitarist at the time, said … Well, I think he’d always had some awareness of the spiritual side of life. But the accident really brought it to the surface. Like now I know he really sees and uses every concert as the spiritual opportunity it is, to reach people… The accident made him recognize God, it changed him a lot. Sometimes he’d just drift off in conversation, he’d just… be some place else. He got really intense after the accident, his ESP got really strong.

I would like to believe in reincarnation. I would like to believe that there is another life. I think that sometimes your consciousness can happen on this earth a second time around. For me, I wrote Higher Ground even before the accident. But something must have been telling me that something was going to happen to make me aware of a lot of things and to get myself together. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more, and to value the fact that I am alive. —Stevie Wonder

1974 Fulfillingness’ First Finale

 

Cecil and Margouleff produced four of Wonder’s “classic” albums in all: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness’ First Finale, as well as several albums by the Isley Brothers and others.

They employed an unusual production technique using multiple layers of instruments such as the clavinet, Fender Rhodes electric pianos, and Arp & Moog synthesizers in place of the string orchestras used in conventional production techniques. This combination is what gives Talking Book and these other three albums their distinctive sound.

1976 Songs in the Key of Life

1979 Journey through the Secret Life of Plants
1980 Hotter than July
1982 Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium
1984 The Woman in Red
1985 In Square Circle
1987 Characters
1995 Conversation Peace
1996 Natural Wonder
1996 Song Review A Greatest Hits Collection
2000 At the Close of a Century
2002 The Definitive Collection
2004 Best of Stevie Wonder: 20th Century Masters Christmas Collection
2005 A Time to Love
2007 Number 1’s

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. Stevie Wonder

To sing along with Stevie Wonder, you had to make your voice do things it was not accustomed to doing. Michael Bolton

I think Stevie Wonder could sing the phone book and manage to make me cry. Brad Delp

God gave me life to continue to do things that I would never have done. Stevie Wonder

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