Saturday, January 27, 1973

Stevie Wonder hit #1 with “Superstition”


Stevie Wonder

Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 11, 1972

Peak: 11 US, 12 CB, 12 HR, 38 AC, 13 RB, 4 CL, 11 UK, 6 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 191.12 video, 422.47 streaming

Awards: (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” JA 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

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Stevie Wonder
  • DMDB page for Talking Book album
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Ed Hogan
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 185.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 133.
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Page 165.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2004). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 137.

Last updated 4/24/2021.