The Wonders of Stevie in the 70s 80s and 90s
Stevie Wonder has had quite an interesting musical career!
Here some of the highlights about the life of the virtuoso in the 70s 80s and 90s.
Stevie in the 70s:
Starting to become a big name in the music industry, Stevie recorded two albums independently although he was already signed to Motown. Stevie intended to use these albums as bargaining chips to usher in a new contract where he would have creative autonomy and a higher royalty rate. The deal worked and in 1972, Wonder released his album 'Music of the Mind' on Motown. The album was departure from his old work with all of the songs on the album flowing together thematically. This was the first, but definitely not the last, time that Stevie would collaborate with Tonto's Expanding Head Band.
Stevie's #1 single 'Superstition' came in late 1972 and the rocking groove of the sound expanding Stevie's audience to rock stations. He also toured with The Rolling Stones to counteract negative pigeon-holing effects of being an R&B artist in America. Stevie also made a brief appearance on Sesame Street that year. Wonder became the most influential black person in music in the early 1970's with the release of 'Innervisions' in 1973 which won a Grammy for Album of the Year.
After a serious car accident, Wonder made a full recovery and released 'Fullfillingness' First Finale' which once again won the Album of the Year Grammy. Stevie performed at the infamous 'Wonder Dream Concert' in Kingston, Jamaica to benefit the Jamaican Institute for the Blind in 1975. He then released 'Songs in the Key of Life' later in the decade, which is believed by many to be his crowning achievement. He won the Album of the Year Grammy once more.
Here's Stevie discussing 'Innervisions':
Stevie in the 80s:
After taking a break from writing, Wonder returned to release the soundtrack to 'The Secret Life of Plants' and then his single album 'Hotter Than July', which was his first single-album to become certified Platinum. The single 'Happy Birthday', was positively received and worked as a vehicle to help Stevie's campaign to establish Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday. Wonder also teamed up with Paul McCartney to score the number one hit about racial harmony 'Ebony and Ivory'.
Wonder's song 'I Just Called to Say I Love You', which was written for the film 'The Women in Red', won an Academy Award for Best Song, making that Wonder's first Oscar. Wonder lent his harmonica skills to many artists around this time including Eurythmics and Elton John. By 1985, he was an American icon. Around this time he also worked with Bruce Springsteen on the track 'We Are the World', a charity single for African Famine Relief.
Here's Stevie and Paul working together in 'Ebony and Ivory':
Stevie in the 90s:
Stevie still released material in the 90s, but at a slower pace. He did the soundtrack for Spike Lee's film 'Jungle Fever', which spawned several successful singles. 'Conversation Peace', Wonder's next album, received a high profile release in 1995, where Stevie had stated that the tearing down of The Wall in Berlin was a large inspiration to the writing of the album. Stevie also made several more guest appearances in this decade, and performed John Lennon's 'Imagine' at the closing ceremonies at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Stevie collaborated once more with Spike Lee for two songs for his film 'Bamboozled', and also contributed to songs by Sting and Babyface. His album 'Songs in the Key of Love' was chosen as the subject for an episode of an hour long television series.
Here's Stevie at the Olympic Closing Ceremony in Atlanta:
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Stevie Wonder Interviews:
Stevie Wonder interview on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970:
Stevie talking about his blindness in 1980:
Stevie on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1990: