Smorgasbord Music Column – William Price King Meets Music Legends – #Jazz #Soul #Stevie Wonder – The 1970s

It is nine years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. We continue in 2023 with series sharing the lives and music of some of the great names in music over the last century

Welcome to the new series of musical legends and now we explore the life and music of the incredible Stevie Wonder, whose songs have played a massive role in our lives for the last fifty years..

Music Legends Stevie Wonder – The 1970s

Last week we enjoyed the music from Stevie Wonder’s teenage years as he established himself at the Motown label.. and now time for the 1970s.

In 1971, Wonder negotiated a new contract with Motown that gave him almost total control over his records and greatly increased his royalty rate.

This concession was unheard of at the time, but it was the impetus that Stevie Wonder needed to produce an outstanding body of work in the next few years. For the first time Stevie received the credit for writing or co-writing every track on the Where I’m Coming From album producing a top ten single ‘If you Really Love Me’.

‘Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You),‘ an emotionally rich jazz-soul opus that highlighted Wonder’s pioneering work in synthesized/electronic sounds. It was the first single from Wonder’s Music of My Mind album (1972). This song chronicles the relationship he had with his first wife, singer-composer Syreeta Wright, and features Stevie Wonder as a virtual one-man band. The song peaked at #33 on the Billboard Pop charts.

Stevie Wonder’s fans were not to be disappointed with the next album released at the end of 1972. Talking Book contained some of his most popular tracks including ‘Superstition’ and ‘You are the Sunshine of my Life’ both of which hit #1. The release of the album coincided with a tour with the Rolling Stones broadening his appeal from R&B to pop, and it was instrumental in the success of both those iconic songs.

Stevie Wonder’s ‘You are the sunshine of my life’ won him a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance (1973) and was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This song was Stevie’s third number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his first number one on the Easy Listening chart. Rolling Stone ranked this song #281 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Innervisions’ released in 1973, featured Higher Ground’ (No. 4 on the pop charts) as well as the distinctively stylish ‘Living for the City’, (No. 8). Both songs reached #1 on the R&B charts. Popular ballads such as ‘Golden Lady’ and ‘All in Love Is Fair’ were also present, in a mixture of moods that nevertheless held together as a unified whole.

Innervisions generated three more Grammy Awards, including “Album of the Year.” The album is ranked # 23 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Wonder had become the most influential and acclaimed black musician of the early 1970s.

Unfortunately in August 1973, Stevie Wonder was in a serious automobile accident while on tour in North Carolina when the car he was riding in hit the back of a truck. He was in a coma for four days but despite this serious setback he was back and performing for his European tour in early 1974 in venues from Cannes to London. In March 1974 he returned to the US and played a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden.

Immediately after this he returned to the studio and album Fulfillingness’ First Finale appeared in July 1974 and set two hits high on the pop charts: the # 1 You Haven’t Done Nothin, which railed against President Richard Nixon and featured The Jackson 5, and the Top Ten Boogie on Reggae Woman. The album won two Grammy awards, one for Best Album and the other for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

The next milestone in Stevie Wonder’s career was the double album with EP set Songs in the Key of Life, released in September 1976, which many consider to be not only his most legendary project but also one of the greatest albums of all time. The theme of the tracks covered elements of life in America in the 1950s including ethnic diversity and love in all its varying shades of light and dark. The album became the first by an American artist to debut straight at #1 in the Billboard charts, where it stood for 14 non-consecutive weeks and the album had two pop/R&B #1 singles.

I Wish‘ single from the album focuses on Stevie’s childhood from the 1950s into the early 1960s. The single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts.

Songs in the Key of Life won Album of the Year and two other Grammys bringing Stevie Wonder’s total for the 1970s to fifteen. The album ranks 57th on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

To end the post today ‘Isn’t she lovely’ another well known composition from the album Songs in the Key of Life. This song, which celebrates the birth of his daughter Aisha, was not released as a single in the US but received major air play across the country and around the world. Stevie Wonder performed this song “live” for Queen Elizabeth II at her “Diamond Jubilee Concert,” where he modified the lyrics to refer to the Queen.

Buy the music of Stevie Wonder: Amazon

Additional sources: Wikipedia

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


53 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column – William Price King Meets Music Legends – #Jazz #Soul #Stevie Wonder – The 1970s

  1. Wow, what a fab recap of Stevie’s fabulous albums – I have them all! And I did not know he was in a bad accident in the 70s. Thanks for this wonderful series and music. ❤

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  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 20th – 26th March 2023 – De-Cluttering, New Releases Promotion, Big Band Era, Stevie Wonder, Podcast, Health, Reviews, Bloggers and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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