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Stevie Wonder

May 13, 1950

Artistfacts for Stevie Wonder

  • He was born Steveland Hardaway Judkins. His mother was Lula May Hardaway, who was 17 at the time of his birth, and his father was Calvin Judkins, a man who was nearly 30 years her senior. When he was four years old, Stevie, his mother, and his two older brothers moved from Saginaw to Detroit. It was then that Wonder's surname was legally changed to Morris, an old family name, as a preemptive strike against any attempt by Calvin Judkins to cut in on their sudden good fortune. Many say that Morris was Lula's married name, but this is clearly erroneous, as her second husband was a man named Paul Lynch.
  • According to his official biography, Wonder was born six weeks premature in a Saginaw Hospital. He was kept alive in an incubator for a month, and during this time, too much oxygen was pumped into the incubator, causing him to develop retrolental fibroplasia, now technically known as retinopathy of prematurity, which caused his blindness. Wonder says he tries to create "Sonic Pictures" with his songs. (thanks, Annabelle - Eugene, OR)
  • Eddie Murphy used to imitate him on Saturday Night Live. Wonder once appeared on the show in a skit with Murphy.
  • Motown Records signed him when he was 11 and released his first album when he was 12. He was billed as "Little" Stevie Wonder, the boy genius. His 1963 album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius, went to #1. The 'Little' part was only dropped when he hit 6ft.
  • In 1976, Wonder signed what was the biggest record deal ever, for $13 million over 7 years.
  • In 1973, he was in a coma for four days after getting in a car accident (someone else was driving). His vehicle hit a logging truck, and one of the logs went through the windshield and struck Stevie as he was listening to a mix of his Innervisions album. He lost his sense of smell for a while, but it gradually returned, along with the higher consciousness that comes with a near-death experience. "I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future," Wonder said.
  • Stevie took a year off when he was 14 because his voice was changing.
  • He graduated from the Michigan State School For The Blind.
  • He plays most of the instruments on his albums. Wonder is skilled on the keyboard, bass, drums and harmonica. He mastered all four instruments before hitting his teenage years.
  • In 1969, Motown gave him complete control of his recordings. He was one of the first artists to write, produce, arrange, and perform his own songs.
  • In 1968, Stevie Wonder wrote the music to Smokey Robinson's #1 hit, "Tears Of A Clown." Then in 1970, with the help of Lee Garrett, another blind songwriter, Stevie produced and wrote the 1970 hit, "It's A Shame", for a local band in Michigan, The Spinners. Lee Garrett soon became friends with Stevie, and before long, they were songwriting partners. (thanks, Annabelle - Eugene, OR)
  • Minnie Riperton and Deniece Williams use to sing backup for Stevie Wonder. After they would both pursue solo careers. Minnie Riperton is most remembered for the song "Lovin' You" and Williams is famous for singing "Let's Hear It For The Boy" on the Footloose Soundtrack. Both were also famous for their use of the whistle register. (thanks, Jordan - Brooklyn, NY)
  • Motown head Berry Gordy said Wonder was, "The most innovative person that I've ever known. But also unique with his tones and his voice quality."
  • In his early years, Stevie wanted other people in the studio with him when he recorded his vocals so he could feel their presence, which made him more comfortable. There were times when workers and people hanging around the studio were summoned to join Stevie while he tracked his vocals.
  • Wonder doesn't see his blindness as a liability. "Being blind, you don’t judge books by their covers," he said. "You go through things that are relatively insignificant, and you pick out the things that are more important."
  • He never took drugs. "I like my mind the way it is," he said.
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Comments: 13

I was there at the Regal Theatre when Fingertips was recorded. Admission $1.25 each our group was responsible for a) not allowing the act which was to follow Stevie to perform. After "Little Stevie Wonder's" first performance he left the stage; we would not let the next act (a male group) perform. "WE WANT STEVIE" we shouted repeatedly until he had to come back. That is why he sings 1 more time just a little bit louder. We loved him so much we would not let him go. We stayed all 3 shows each time doing the same thing. It was wonderful and as a result they recorded it and the Motown Revue had to out do their best as well. We danced in the aisles, the people in the balcony came down to the first level. I could go on and on it was my friends and I age 14 thru 18. I have even more info. Just ask;-) ;-)Rheta - Santa Monica, Ca
Yes, Annabelle. He is Stevie's brother.Tanya - La Verne, Ca
Stevie's publicist's name is Milton Hardaway. I'm confused. Is that his brother?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
In 1983, Stevie Wonder formed a record label called WONDIRECTION records. Its only release was a 12-inch black history rap single by Gary Byrd called "The Crown". Although it bombed in the States, the single went to #6 in England.John - Nashville, Tn
I believe Hardaway was his mom's last name.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Where in the world did the Hardaway part of Stevie's birth name come from?Annabelle - Eugene, Or
Hi don

Toatally agree with you , his 70's work was what you call class.

I have heard some tracks from his new album, he performed some live in japan and stockham last year and they sound very promising.

David - Uk, England
Absolutly incredible singer/songwriter.

Loved ,'Songs in the key of life' also 'Fullfilingnes first Finale' and 'Innervisons'. Stevie writes very complex melodies but makes them sound simple and has a very good vocal range and his songs cover various of styles.

To me his highlights are his ballads, songs like 'You and I' and 'All is Fair in Love'and the classic,'Knocks me off my Feet' as well as the very beautiful 'Summer Soft'.

One of my favorites is 'Send one your Love' that song is so well arranged and produced and is a joy to listen too.

Really looking forward to his new album, 'A Time 2 Love' which is due out on May 3rd 2005. the 'Evening Standard'a London newspaper did a good review on the album stating it being a wonderful return.

David - Uk, England
Yeah, right. And I think Zlackster was also the guy that impersonated Paul McCartney after he died back in the mid 60's.Mike - New Point, Va
Not many people know this, but Stevie Wonder did not even perform on the Innervisions album. He was in Barbados, and hired Wayne Zlackster, a Stevie Wonder impersonator to record the album. Sadly, Zlackster died in a bizarre accident while milling wheat.Emory - Baltimore, Md
On this site it appears they permit you to give your reviews on various albums. I appreciate that. That being said, Stevie Wonders album "Innervisions" of 1973 is arguably the best album by anybody of that decade. Some may consider it the best ever. Stevie plays every instrument on the album, just amazing. Everything about this album is magnificent. This creation was the pinnacle of his career. Although, he has made some good music throughout his career, in my opinion he has never reached the apex of "Innervisions" His songs of the 80's and on "I just called to say I love you." etc etc etc.... are weak in comparison.Don - Pittsburgh, Pa
Was backed up by the "Funk Brothers" at Motown under Berry Gordy. On Stevie's hit "I was made to love her", there is controversy to this day surrounding who played the bass. Los Angeles female studio bass player, Carol Kaye, claims to have played on the track. Kaye is industry respected and has played on many tracks and big hits from other Motown artists, but it is the signature sound of Motown bassist James Jamerson that is on this Stevie Wonder track. This may be the greatest bass line in any song from any era. Jamerson was incredibly gifted as demonstrated on this track and many others. Unfortunatley, Gordy gave no credit to his musicians. He wanted to keep them under wraps. Jamerson's life story is told in the book "Standing in the shadows of Motown". He died in August of 1983. He was posthumously inducted into the R&R hall of fame in 2000. More info can be found at www.bassland.net/jamerson.htmlPaul - Greenwood, Sc
Blindness was due to over-oxygenation following pre-mature birth.Paul - Greenwood, Sc
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