There is nothing that Stevie Wonder can’t seemingly do in the music world; he is credited with being a pioneer and a positive influencer in various musical genres. He has had a hand in Jazz, funk, soul, R&B, and pop. Born on May 13, 1950, the musician has won uncountable awards, including 25 Grammies, and is recognized as one of the best to ever do it. And by the way, did you know the name “Stevie” (the icon’s name) is not short for “Stephen?” It’s not! It stands for Stevland. Continue reading to find out more fascinating Stevie Wonder facts.
1. Stevie Wonder Wasn’t Born Blind
Stevie Wonder wasn’t born blind; he became so shortly (six weeks) after birth. According to reports, Wonder was born six weeks premature and was incubated. Unfortunately, the fact that he was born prematurely and kept in an oxygen-rich atmosphere resulted in retinopathy of prematurity. The disease affected the growth of his eyes, causing the retinas to detach and eventually turning him blind.
2. Stevie Wonder Considered Quitting Music and Emigrating to Ghana
Following the Watergate Scandal and the seemingly never-ending war with Vietnam, Stevie Wonder strongly expressed his frustration with the United States. In 1975, he considered quitting music and moving to Ghana, where he could work with disabled children – he had even started planning for a farewell concert.
However, he changed his mind and signed a new contract with Motown, which saw him make a $37 million agreement (the biggest deal signed by a recording star at the time). Stevie Wonder then wrote and recorded songs for his The Key Of Life album, considered a masterpiece by music lovers.
3. Stevie Wonder Joked He Would Drive Everyone Home If the Recording of “We Are The World” Wasn’t Completed in One Take
During the recording of the hit song “We Are The World,” Stevie Wonder joked that he, together with Ray Charles (also blind), would drive every musician present home. The song, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, attracted stars from all walks of life. It was the first time that so many heavyweights had met to record a song for a common course – the recording had to be done in one take as it was feared getting all the celebrities together again would be impossible.
4. Stevie Wonder Was Once Asked, “Can You See Us?” During a Grammy Presentation
In 1977’s Grammy edition, Stevie Wonder was visiting South Africa, so he couldn’t attend the ceremony. Grammy’s representatives decided to create a satellite hook-up, so Stevie Wonder could still be awarded remotely. All was going well until Andy William, the show’s host, publicly asked Stevie Wonder if he could see them.
5. He Was Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Although popularly known as “Stevie Wonder,” the legendary musician was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins. His passion for music started when he was young; he signed for Motown’s Tamla label when he was only 11. It was here that he was given the professional name Little Stevie Wonder. He is originally from Saginaw, Michigan.
6. Stevie Wonder Survived a Horrible Car Crash in 1973
In 1973, Stevie Wonder was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a car crash with a logging truck. Unfortunately, a log from the truck struck the musician on the head, leaving him in a coma for 10 days. Stevie Wonder’s friend, Ira Trucker, was the first to elicit his response when she sang “Higher Ground” for him. Following the accident, Stevie Wonder temporarily lost sense of smell and suffered a brain contusion. He later wrote and recorded a song titled “Contusion.”
7. Stevie Wonder Once Helped Locate a Mouse in a Classroom
In a class full of kids with proper eyesight, Stevie Wonder located a mouse rummaging in a wastebasket by listening to its sound. Although he was still young, Stevie Wonder took a lot of pride in his gift of hearing, inspiring him to become a musician. The mouse became the class’ mascot.
8. Coolio’s Song “Gangsta’s Paradise Was Sampled from Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise”
Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise ” hit music was sampled from Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.” Interestingly, it is the only Coolio track that doesn’t feature profanity; this was Stevie Wonder’s requirement before authorizing the sampling. Coincidentally, rapper Coolio died exactly 46 years after the song he sampled debuted.
9. Stevie Wonder Often Trick People That He Can See
Throughout his life, Stevie Wonder has been humorous; he often tries to trick people he can see. For instance, when he opened the Rolling Stones in 1972, he memorized the floor plans of the Four Seasons Hotels. He then pranked people with this knowledge.
10. There Is a Conspiracy Theory That Says Stevie Wonder Isn’t Blind
Because of his massive fame, a lot has been said about Stevie Wonder’s blindness – some conspiracy theorists are even alleging that he isn’t actually blind. As recently as 2023, legendary basketballer Shaquille O’Neal told a story about his interaction with Stevie Wonder in an elevator that fueled more speculations about the musician’s ability to see.
11. Stevie Wonder Once Recorded a Double Album on the Sentience of Plants
In 1979, Stevie Wonder recorded an album titled “Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.” Its cover was scented like flowers.
12. He Wrote a Birthday Song to Petition for Recognition of Martin Luther King’s Birthday
In 1981, Stevie Wonder wrote and sang a birthday song to petition for the creation and recognition of Martin Luther King’s birthday. He succeeded.
13. Stevie Wonder Topped the Billboard Charts at 13
When he was only 13, Stevie Wonder’s cut of “Fingertips” topped the Billboard charts. It was the first live track to manage the feat in Stateside countdown. A young Marvin Gaye was on the drums.
14. Tracy Chapman Made Her “Fast Car” Song Debut Because Stevie Wonder Lost an Important Hard Drive
Tracy Chapman is a legendary musician known for hits such as Give Me a Reason (1995) and Fast Car (1998). Apparently, the reason she was able to debut “Fast Car” to over 600 million people is because Stevie Wonder lost an important hard drive, so he wasn’t able to perform.
15. The Only Part That Stevie Wonder Didn’t Play in His Song “Superstition” Was the Horns
“Superstition” is one of Stevie Wonder’s greatest hits. To further highlight his talent, Stevie composed, wrote, sang, and played the keyboard for the song. He also played the bass part on a base synthesizer, not to mention the drums. The only thing he didn’t have a hand in was the horns.