Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)
First Charted: November 11, 1972
Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 2 GR, 12 HR, 38 AC, 13 RB, 4 CL, 11 UK, 6 CN, 95 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 238.51 video, 524.14 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Discrepancies abound regarding this song’s origin. One version says Wonder wrote it while at the drums, first playing the beat and then humming the melody. AMG Blues-rock guitarist Jeff Beck was planning a 1971 album with Motown MA but when the project was abandoned, MA Motown opted to release a version by Wonder. LW It became his first #1 hit in nearly a decade. RS500
Another account suggests that when Wonder began his Talking Book album, Beck was a principal collaborator TB and that “Superstition” grew out of the pair jamming in the studio TB with Beck coming up with the drum groove while Wonder crafted the distinctive riff on clarinet. TB In this more selfish version of the story, after initially offering the song to Beck, Wonder opted to keep it for himself as a single release to the dismay of Beck’s label. TB
Regardless of its origins, the song “was a rock/ funk crossover” AMG that furthered soul and pop music’s modern studio recording techniques MA via “early use of synthesized keyboards” DJ and “one of the most copied and influential riffs ever written.” LW When Beck finally released his own version on Beck, Bogart, Appice, it was a drum-driven rock song aided by Carmine Appice, AMG which was “nothing more than bluesy light jazz.” MA
After label-mate Marvin Gaye’s success with the themed album, What’s Going On, in 1971, he renogitiated his Motown contract for more royalties and artistic control. LW Wonder followed suit with the company’s most lucrative contract in their history and was guaranteed complete artistic control – at only 21 years old. LW
Last updated 2/3/2023.
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