By Craig Modderno
Moving onstage to the Motown beat of his hit songs “Uptight” and “I Was Made to Love Her,” the 18-year-old musician in the dark glasses performs with a rare, vibrant enthusiasm.
When the show ends, the “Prince of Soul” is escorted offstage by the guiding hand of his musical conductor. Blind since birth, Stevie Wonder is a part of many different worlds.
In his dressing room at Mr D’s, Stevie drank tea and talked about his career. “I’ve been recording for eight years, but I dreamed of my name in lights before I ever thought I would be a success. I consider my talent to be a gift of God, and I’m very thankful for it.”
In 1963, Little Stevie Wonder recorded a live song that was entitled “Fingertips.” Though, the lyrics were simple, Stevie’s exciting vocal performance made it the No 1 record of the year.
What happened to Little Stevie Wonder?
What happened to Little Stevie Wonder? “Well, he grew up. He got taller,” said Stevie with a smile. His material now includes tunes like Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind,” which he recorded after attending a Dylan concert and “feeling the atmosphere the song created within the audience.”
Stevie plays drums, organ and harmonica, an instrument which he plays a beautiful rendition of “Alfie.” When he records a single release, he plays all the percussion instruments and later dubs in the chorus.
Discussing musicians, he spoke in awe of the talents of Jose Feliciano. “He’s fantastic. I don’t see how anyone blind can play that well.”
Wonder’s blindness doesn’t handicap him from reading books, writing songs, and musical arranging. “When you write a song you leave something of yourself behind. I like the arranging of “For Once In My Life” because it’s great to take a good song and give your personal feeling to it.”
Three female fans came in to talk with Stevie, and he began to feel at ease. They discussed astrological signs and the traits of people born under each sign.
Since Stevie is a Taurus, the bull, one girl said that he is a little egotistical, but Stevie happily proclaimed that this fault was a sign of his strength.
Asked what sign I was born under, I replied “a Budweiser sign,” although Stevie later guessed me to be Aquarius.
A teen with new ideas & deep concerns
Despite his musical success, Stevie is basically a teenager with deep concerns and new ideas.
“Older people don’t accept younger people. The older people are afraid to be a part of any change, while many young people just don’t have anything to express. The only way to get anything done is for both sides to try to communicate,” Stevie said eagerly.
Expressing an admiration for the late Dr Martin Luther King, Stevie rejected the preachings of violence. “I can’t accept anyone who preaches hatred. Musicians generally aren’t violent, and I’m certainly not. The young white people are now beginning to see what being real is, and I feel the races are getting very close together.”
Stevie started tapping a melody on the table and teasing the girls. Whenever someone told a funny joke, he held out his hands for them to slap. He signed an autograph, but had to have his hand guided by another person. Whether it’s an audience or a group of happy fans, Stevie needs to “touch what my heart used to dream of.”
“Meeting and communicating with people keeps me grooving,” Stevie said, and he started snapping his fingers while getting ready for his show.
Video: Stevie Wonder Uptight!/A Place In the Sun (1966)
Performing on the from Mike Douglas show