Category: little stevie wonder

On this day in music history: August 16, 1962 …

On this day in music history: August 16, 1962 – “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2”, the debut single by Little Stevie Wonder is released. Written by Berry Gordy, Jr. and Clarence Paul, the young singer and musician (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins) is brought to Motown founder and chairman Berry Gordy’s attention by Miracles member Ronnie White after his brother Gerald sees Stevie perform at a friends house. White is so impressed, that he arranges for the then eleven year old to audition for Gordy. Motown quickly signs Stevie and pairs him with Motown staff producer and songwriter Clarence Paul.  It is Paul that gives the singer his professional surname after hearing someone exclaim, “that boy is a wonder!” Paul and Gordy co-write Wonder’s debut release, which features another newly signed Motown artist named Marvin Gaye playing drums on the song. Motown initially markets the twelve year old singer as “a young Ray Charles”. The two sides of the single stand in stark contrast from each other, with part one having a straight ahead uptempo R&B sound, while part two is slower and has a more traditional blues feel. Initial pressings of the 45 are issued in a picture sleeve showing Wonder singing into a microphone. Though “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2” bubbles under the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #101, and does not chart on the R&B singles chart, it marks the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s over fifty year association with Motown Records.

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On this day in music history: August 10, 1963 …

On this day in music history: August 10, 1963 – “Fingertips Pt. II” by Little Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 7 weeks on August 3, 1963. Written by Clarence Paul and Henry Cosby, it is the first chart topping single for the Motown icon from Saginaw, MI. Having struggled for his first year on Motown with his first three singles and first two albums failing to chart, Berry Gordy, Jr. comes up with another plan. Noticing audiences response to Wonder’s energetic live performances, Gordy decides to record him live during his first outing on the Motortown Revue Tour in 1962 at the famed Regal Theater in Chicago. Among the songs featured is “Fingertips”, written by Wonder’s producers Henry “Hank” Cosby and Clarence Paul. Recorded on June 1, 1962, it features the singer backed by members of The Funk Brothers, and a pre-fame Marvin Gaye playing drums. Over six and a half minutes long, the first half features Stevie playing the harmonica and bongos. During the second half, he begins a call and response with the audience, who respond enthusiastically. At the five and a half minute mark, the song appears to end with Wonder playing a short bit of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, followed the MC telling him to take a bow. With The Marvelettes up next, bassist James Jamerson has steps off stage with Joe Swift taking his place. At this point, Wonder makes an unexpected encore, continuing to play the harmonica, with the other musicians slowly falling back in. Then Swift is heard frantically yelling out “what key??? what key???”. Then the band launches back into “Fingertips” for another minute as the crowd roars its approval, with Stevie responding with “goodbye, goodbye… goodbye, goodbye… goodbye, goodbye, goodbye… I’m gonna go back, I’m gonna go, yeah… But let’s just swing it one more time!!!”. The results are undeniably electric, moving Motown to release the song. “Fingertips” is divided into two parts, and is issued on May 21, 1963. DJ’s begin playing part two featuring the encore half, which listeners respond to immediately. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on June 22, 1963, it rockets to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The huge success of “Fingertips Pt. II” also propels the album “Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius” (though is actually thirteen at the time of its release) to number one on the Top 200 and R&B album charts. Stevie Wonder becomes the youngest artist in history to score a chart topping single and album. It is also the first live recording to top the charts since Johnny Standley’s “It’s In The Book”, eleven years earlier. Years later, part of Wonder’s vocal from “Fingertips” is sampled on Chaka Khan’s version of the Prince penned “I Feel For You” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), which also features Stevie on harmonica. “Fingertips Pt. II” is the first of twenty R&B and ten pop chart toppers Wonder has over the course of his five decade plus career.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: August 24, 1963 …

On this day in music history: August 24, 1963 – “Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius” by (Little) Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Berry Gordy, Jr. it is recorded at the Royal Theater in Chicago, IL in June 1962. Following the failure of his first two studio albums, Motown founder Berry Gordy hits upon the idea of recording the young singers electrifying live performances. Performing as part of the legendary Motortown Revue in 1962, Wonder turns in a highly energetic set in front of an audience at the legendary Royal Theater in Chicago. When the album is released in May of 1963, it quickly attracts attention when radio DJ’s who begin playing the second half of the mostly instrumental track “Fingertips”. Bolstered by Stevie’s call and response with the audience as well as his virtuoso harmonica playing, both the single and album race up the charts. With the single “Fingertips Pt. 2” (hitting number one on August 10, 1963) also holding at number one on the Hot 100 for a third week, Wonder (thirteen years old and three months old at the time) becomes the youngest artist in Billboard chart history to hold down the top spots on the pop album and singles charts simultaneously.

On this day in music history: August 16, 1962 …

On this day in music history: August 16, 1962 – “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2”, the debut single by Little Stevie Wonder is released. Written by Berry Gordy, Jr. and Clarence Paul, the young singer and musician (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins) is brought to Motown founder and chairman Berry Gordy’s attention by Miracles member Ronnie White after his brother Gerald sees Stevie perform at a friends house. White is so impressed, that he arranges for the then eleven year old to audition for Gordy. Motown quickly signs Stevie and pairs him with Motown staff producer and songwriter Clarence Paul.  It is Paul that gives the singer his professional surname after hearing someone exclaim, “that boy is a wonder!” Paul and Gordy co-write Wonder’s debut release, which features another newly signed Motown artist named Marvin Gaye playing drums on the song. Motown initially markets the twelve year old singer as “a young Ray Charles”. The two sides of the single stand in stark contrast from each other, with part one having a straight ahead uptempo R&B sound, while part two is slower and has a more traditional blues feel. Initial pressings of the 45 are issued in a picture sleeve showing Wonder singing into a microphone. Though “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2” bubbles under the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #101, and does not chart on the R&B singles chart, it marks the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s over fifty year association with Motown Records.

On this day in music history: August 10, 1963 …

On this day in music history: August 10, 1963 – “Fingertips Pt. II” by Little Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 7 weeks on August 3, 1963. Written by Clarence Paul and Henry Cosby, it is the first chart topping single for the Motown icon from Saginaw, MI. Having struggled for his first year on Motown with his first three singles and first two albums failing to chart, Berry Gordy, Jr. comes up with another plan. Noticing audiences response to Wonder’s energetic live performances, Gordy decides to record him live during his first outing on the Motortown Revue Tour in 1962 at the famed Regal Theater in Chicago. Among the songs featured is “Fingertips”, written by Wonder’s producers Henry “Hank” Cosby and Clarence Paul. Recorded on June 1, 1962, it features the singer backed by members of The Funk Brothers, and a pre-fame Marvin Gaye playing drums. Over six and a half minutes long, the first half features Stevie playing the harmonica and bongos. During the second half, he begins a call and response with the audience, who respond enthusiastically. At the five and a half minute mark, the song appears to end with Wonder playing a short bit of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, followed the MC telling him to take a bow. With The Marvelettes up next, bassist James Jamerson has steps off stage with Joe Swift taking his place. At this point, Wonder makes an unexpected encore, continuing to play the harmonica, with the other musicians slowly falling back in. Then Swift is heard frantically yelling out “what key??? what key???”. Then the band launches back into “Fingertips” for another minute as the crowd roars its approval, with Stevie responding with “goodbye, goodbye… goodbye, goodbye… goodbye, goodbye, goodbye… I’m gonna go back, I’m gonna go, yeah… But let’s just swing it one more time!!!”. The results are undeniably electric, moving Motown to release the song. “Fingertips” is divided into two parts, and is issued on May 21, 1963. DJ’s begin playing part two featuring the encore half, which listeners respond to immediately. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on June 22, 1963, it rockets to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The huge success of “Fingertips Pt. II” also propels the album “Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius” (though is actually thirteen at the time of its release) to number one on the Top 200 and R&B album charts. Stevie Wonder becomes the youngest artist in history to score a chart topping single and album. It is also the first live recording to top the charts since Johnny Standley’s “It’s In The Book”, eleven years earlier. Years later, part of Wonder’s vocal from “Fingertips” is sampled on Chaka Khan’s version of the Prince penned “I Feel For You” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), which also features Stevie on harmonica. “Fingertips Pt. II” is the first of twenty R&B and ten pop chart toppers Wonder has over the course of his five decade plus career.