- Posted January 27, 2013 by
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Your rock and roll memories
Stevie Wonder comes to visit Suzuki Stand!
Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950 as Stevland Hardaway Judkins), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, a child prodigy who developed into one of the most creative 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 to this day.
Among Wonder's best known works are singles such as "Superstition", "Sir Duke", "I Wish" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You". Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
By popular vote, Stevie was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012.
Birth name Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Also known as Stevland Hardaway Morris, Little Stevie Wonder, Eivets Rednow
Born May 13, 1950 (age 62)
Origin Detroit, Michigan,
Genres Soul, pop, R&B, funk, jazz
Occupations Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, activist
Instruments Vocals, synthesizer, piano, keyboards, harmonica, clavinet, drums, bass guitar, congas, bongos, melodica, keytar, accordion, harpejji
Years active 1961–present
Labels Tamla, Motown
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950, the third of six children to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. Owing to his being born six weeks premature, the blood vessels at the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front and their aborted growth caused the retinas to detach. The medical term for this condition is retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, and it was exacerbated by the oxygen therapy given while in his hospital incubator.
When Stevie Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved to Detroit with her children. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son's surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Morris has remained Stevie Wonder's legal surname ever since. He began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica, drums and bass. During childhood he was active in his church choir.
Discovery and early Motown recordings
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. Before signing, 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.
Early success: 1963–1971
By age 13, Wonder had a major hit, "Fingertips (Pt. 2)", a 1963 single taken from a live recording of a Motor Town Revue performance, issued on the album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius. The song, featuring Wonder on vocals, bongos, and harmonica, and a young Marvin Gaye on drums, was a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts, making him the youngest artist to top the former in its history and launching him into the public consciousness.
In 1964, Stevie Wonder made his film debut in Muscle Beach Party as himself, credited as "Little Stevie Wonder". He returned in the sequel released five months later, Bikini Beach. He performed on-screen in both films, singing "Happy Street," and "Happy Feelin' (Dance and Shout)," respectively.
Dropping the "Little" from his name, Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", "With a Child's Heart", and "Blowin' in the Wind", a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including "Tears of a Clown", a number one hit performed by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
In 1968 he recorded an album of instrumental soul/jazz tracks, mostly harmonica solos, under the pseudonym (and title) Eivets Rednow, which is "Stevie Wonder" spelled backwards. The album failed to get much attention, and its only single, a cover of "Alfie", only reached number 66 on the U.S. Pop charts and number 11 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts. Nonetheless, he managed to score several hits between 1968 and 1970 such as "I Was Made to Love Her"; "For Once in My Life" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours". In September 1970, at the age of 20, Wonder married Syreeta Wright, a songwriter and former Motown secretary. Wright and Wonder co-wrote the songs on the next album, Where I'm Coming From, which did not succeed in the charts. Reaching his twenty-first birthday on May 13, 1971, he allowed his Motown contract to expire.
In 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on the hit "It's a Shame" for fellow Motown act The Spinners. His contribution was meant to be a showcase of his talent and thus a weapon in his ongoing negotiations with Gordy about creative autonomy.
Classic period: 1972–1976
Wonder independently recorded two albums, which he used as a bargaining tool while negotiating with Motown. Eventually the label agreed to his demands for full creative control and the rights to his own songs. The 120-page contract was a precedent at Motown and gave Wonder a much higher royalty rate. Wonder returned to Motown in March 1972 with Music of My Mind. Unlike most previous albums on Motown, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, B-sides and covers, Music of My Mind was a full-length artistic statement with songs flowing together thematically. Wonder's lyrics dealt with social, political, and mystical themes as well as standard romantic ones, while musically Wonder began exploring overdubbing and recording most of the instrumental parts himself. Music of My Mind marked the beginning of a long collaboration with Tonto's Expanding Head Band (Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil).
"Superstition" (reduced quality)
from Talking Book by Stevie Wonder, Motown 1972-10-27. Sample from Stevie Wonder Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection, Motown, 1996-12-10
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Released in late 1972, Talking Book featured the No. 1 hit "Superstition", which is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner clavinet keyboard. The song features a rocking groove that garnered Wonder an additional audience on rock radio stations. Talking Book also featured "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", which also peaked at No. 1. During the same time as the album's release, Stevie Wonder began touring with the Rolling Stones to alleviate the negative effects from pigeon-holing as a result of being an R&B artist in America. Wonder's touring with The Rolling Stones was also a factor behind the success of both "Superstit