In 1963, “Fingertips – Part 2” was the first live song to hit #1 in more than a decade. It was primarily an instrumental to showcase this musician’s talents on the harmonica. It sounds like an unlikely hit, but one that a seasoned veteran – like Ray Charles – might pull off. The singer did share similarities with Charles – he was blind and black and is considered one of the greatest soul geniuses in history. One difference – he was a twelve-year-old kid when he recorded his masterpiece and only 13 when it hit the top of the charts.
In the nearly fifty years since then, Stevie Wonder has solidified has place as one of the greatest musicians of all time. He ranks in the top ten of the Dave’s Music Database list of the top 100 acts of all time. The DMDB also includes him on its lists of top 100 singers and top 100 songwriters. He’s an inductee in the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has also amassed more than twenty Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award.
No one knew what greatness was in store nearly fifty years ago, but a #1 song for a thirteen-year-old for his first chart entry isn’t a bad way to start. At first, some may have thought he was a novelty who would come and go quickly. After all, music history is littered with teen sensations whose careers died before they hit 20. It looked like Wonder might go that route initially – over the next couple years, he only chalked up a few minor top 40 hits. It took 2 ½ years before his next significant hit – “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, a #3 song in 1966. Jump to present day and Wonder can boast to landing more than two dozen top ten pop hits; nine of them went to #1. He has also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades. If he can chart something before 2020, he’ll have done it for six.