Today, legendary singer Stevie Wonder is celebrating his 63rd birthday.
Stevie, who was born in Saginaw, Michigan (May 13, 1950) lost his eyesight shortly after he was born.
His mother moved from Saginaw, to Detroit in the early 1950s, after his father Clarence, abandoned the family. In Detroit, future Miracles group member Ronnie White introduced Stevie to Berry Gordy, who promptly signed the boy genius to his Tamla label in 1961. By the age of 13, Stevie was a #1 artist.
1. Stevie Wonder was born premature on May 13, 1950. Ironically, he spent 40 days and 40 nights in an incubator. He was blinded after too much oxygen was sent to his incubation tank. It was either his sight, or his life.
2. Stevie Wonder grew up in the Brewster-Douglass Projects, in Detroit.
3. Stevie Wonder once claimed he lost his virginity at the age of eight.
4. Stevie once claimed he could tell if a woman was pretty or not, just by her smell and the way she talked. He claimed he could sense the woman’s “vibrations” and labeled these types of women “Satin Dolls” because they were beautiful on the inside out.
6. Stevie Wonder’s music was banned from South African Airwaves in 1985, due to his anti-apartheid stance.
7. Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” was Motown’s biggest shipping record up until the 1980’s, with pre-orders exceeding 1.3 million copies
8 Stevie Wonder was a leader in helping to get Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday declared a national holiday. When Arizona reps refused to acknowledge the holiday, Stevie vowed to never play in the state again.
9. Stevie Wonder won an Oscar for his hit song “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” which was taken from “Woman In Red.”
10. He was sued for plagiarising the song shortly afterwards, by a songwriter named Lloyd Chiate. The suit was eventually dismissed and Stevie was cleared of any wrong doing.
11. In 1975, Stevie Wonder signed a $13 million, seven-year deal with Motown Records
12. Stevie’s brother Calvin picked out all of Stevie’s clothes and traveled with him everywhere
13. Stevie Wonder wrote his first song at the age of 10. It was titled “Lonely Boy.” His first hit record came two years later as an artist on Motown with the single “Fingertips.”
14. Stevie Wonder had all of his fan mail transcribed into Braille
15. Stevie was once dubbed “The Prophet of Soul.”
16. Although he was billed as “Little” Stevie Wonder, he was actually 6’2 by the time he was 21.
17. In 1968, Stevie Wonder had surgery on his vocal chords to remove a polyp.
18. The last time Bob Marley played with The Wailers – Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, was as openers for a Stevie Wonder concert in Kingston, Jamaica in 1975. There’s an 8-minute bootleg recording of Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder performing “I Shot the Sheriff.”
19. Despite many variations, Stevie’s mother Lula claimed Stevie’s real name was Steveland Morris Judkins. While the name change has been attributed to keeping Stevie’s father away from his estranged son’s fortune, Lula went to her grave without offering up an explanation for the name “Morris.”
20. At one point, Stevie Wonder oversaw a multi-million dollar empire that included his companies Black Bull Publishing, Taurus Productions and a radio station in Los Angeles, KHLJ, which stood for “kindness, joy, love and happiness.”
Two for the road:
Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 2002, a former girlfriend named Angela McAfee sued Stevie Wonder for $30 million in palimony and claimed the singer gave her genital herpes, a charge he vehemently denied.