Few artists are as able to transcend genre as Stevie Wonder. That’s not to say his own output has ever strayed too far from the castle of funky R&B that he built in the late-sixies and has resided in ever since. But Stevie Wonder, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, will have fans from across the music industry wishing him well.
The singer shot to fame as one of the fastest selling artists of the early seventies. Tracks like ‘Uptight’ had made Wonder a rising star and the singer never really stopped moving forward from there. Hampered somewhat by blindness, Wonder never let his impairment get in the way of his dream.
Below we’re taking a look back at seven of Stevie Wonders best duets as he joins some of the most iconic artists in the music business to share a song or two. While all of his fans will be glad to see the back of his Michael Jackson productions, and a certain ‘Ebony & Ivory’, otherwise collaborating has always been a part of Wonder’s legacy.
The singer wasn’t just a frequent duet partner for many artists but he was also a performer and songwriter who often gave away his tracks. Some incredible songs too, including Chaka Khan’s ‘Tell Me Something Good’, Smokey Robinson’s ‘Tears Of A Clown’ and so many more.
Stevie Wonder’s best duets:
‘My Love’ with Dionne Warwick
The 1984 track that Wonder sang with the legendary singer Dionne Warwick will forever go down as one of Wonder’s finest. The singer is in imperious form with Warwick finding solace in an old friend in the autumn of her career.
‘My Love’ is a soulful ballad which sees the two icons of music sharing a touching moment as the warmth of their relationship is obvious to all.
‘Uptight’ & ‘Satisfaction’ with The Rolling Stones
In 1972, there were two artists that were flying up the charts. One, the bouncing dominating seventies rock gods, The Rolling Stones and the other was the up-and-coming R&B soul-man, Stevie Wonder.
On one special stage, the two artists would join each other for a perfect performance of their respective hits ‘Satisfaction‘ and ‘Uptight’. It was a dream combo good enough to bring down any house in their path. For four lucky dates the audience got to enjoy two behemoths sharing the stage.
His duet with Bruce Springsteen on ‘We Are The World’
Not exactly a full collaboration but where would we be if we didn’t include this absolute game-changing duet from the middle of ‘We Are The World’. The track was written in 1985 as part of U.S.A for Africa, to help combat famine.
Aside from Bob Dylan trying as hard as he can to have the earth open up and swallow him (if you ahven’t seen the video, you must) it also had Springsteen and Wonder share a delightful back and forth.
The Boss’ graveltone is perfectly smoothed out by Wonder’s iconic style.
‘Love’s In Need of Love Today’ with George Michael
Arguably the most beautiful performance on this list, Stevie Wonder is joined by George Michael for a quite breathtaking performance of the gorgeous ‘Love’s In Need of Love Today’.
Wonder was making an appearance on a US TV special when he invited out his special guest to join him for the song from his seminal album Songs In The Key Of Life.
Michale and Wonder make for a perfect vocal blend that allows both of their softness and sturdiness to be showcased.
Tom Jones & Stevie Wonder Medley
When Stevie Wonder was invited to The Tom Jones Show in 1969 he joined the Welsh crooner for a very special medley of their biggest hits.
There aren’t many people in the world who can match Tom Jones for sheer magnetism but somehow the 19-year-old Wonder equals his elder with a showstopping performance. The duo really kicks into gear with a performance of Wonder’s ‘Uptight’.
‘Pops, We Love You’ Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson
Following the death of Berry ‘Pops’ Gordon Sr. to cancer in 1978, Motown records, led by his music mogul son Berry Gordon Jr. gathered some of it’s brightest stars to release a celebratory single. The song ‘Pops, We Love You’ has an all-star cast.
A single eventually turned into a full-length album, but it’s on the titular song where the stars truly shine. As well as Stevie Wonder, whose vocal is especially brilliant, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson all do a stand-up job of singing so beautifully that you’ll forget all about the poor lyrics.
‘What’s That You’re Doing’ with Paul McCartney
While ‘Ebony & Ivory’ the saccharine song Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder wrote as some kind of chocolate box anthem for race relations, Wonder did make an incredible contribution to McCartney’s 1982 album Tug of War.
The often forgotten track ‘What’s That You’re Doing’ may well be a slight pastiche on funk but what it does provide is a super-charged 8-bit head-bopper. When Wonder’s vocals kick in you are warmly assured that at least someone is in control.
It’s about as 1982 as a song can get it, and it’s pretty damn perfect because of it.
Singing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ with Bill Withers
When the late great Bill Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame it was only right that he should be joined by his longtime friend Stevie Wonder for a special performance.
Two old friends take to the stage to sing Withers’ most iconic song, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. The late singer died earlier this year with Wonder later claiming he had planned one last duet with Withers before he died. Sadly, they never got together again.
For that reason alone, this duet of Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ is simply perfect.