Biography

17. Just A Call Of Love

Stevie Wonder & Marvin GayeEvents of a few months later were to bring sadness to Stevie and many others. On the 1st of April 1984 Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his own father. A few hours before Stevie had written a song called Lighting Up The Candles which Stevie performed at the funeral service

Lighting up the candles
To what use to be
Tender memories in moments of love
Happy times and bad times
All seem wonderful


The planned album, In Square Circle was again delayed, but a surprise soundtrack was on the way. A Gene Wilder comedy, The Woman In Red opened in August 1984 to a soundtrack putStevie Wonder receiving Oscar together by Stevie ably assisted by Dionne Warwick. The first single I Just Called To Say I Love You was a worldwide smash, giving Stevie his first UK #1 single as a solo artist. It also topped the US charts. The album included a classic Wonder composition, Love Light In Flight, the title track, and the socially aware Don't Drive Drunk. Stevie duets with Dionne on It's You and Weakness both ballads in a pop vein. Dionne solos on Moments Aren't Moments and Wonderlove has an instrumental outing on It's More Than You written by Ben Bridges.

More session work would follow for Stevie during the 1984-5 period. He contributed a harp solo on the King Sunny Ade track Ase for the Aura album, played harmonica on the Chaka Khan hit I Feel For You which also sampled his Fingertips and on Dizzy Gillespie's Closer To The Source. He also appeared on Rockwells album, and contributed the songs Upset Stomach to the soundtrack of the Motown movie, The Last Dragon, and the opening track, Feel It on the British Trio Feelabilia's debut album.

Stevie also wrote two tracks, Do I and Everything's Coming Up Roses for Eddie Murphy's first album of songs. The Eurythmics invited him to add a harmonica solo to their song There Must be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) which would be a UK #1 smash and a top 20 US single. And he contributed the song I Do Love You to the Beach Boys eponymous album.

Stevie then got involved in the USA for Africa project which was based on the efforts by British artists to raise funds for the starving people of Ethiopia. The brainchild of Bob Geldof, a group of British singers and musicians under the collective name of Band Aid released the song, Do They Know It's Christmas?. The American version was conceived by Harry Belafonte, who invited Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and Stevie Wonder to compose an appropriate song. Stevie was initially unavailable for the first part of the project and advised the other two to compose the song in his absence. However when the artists did assemble to perform the song We Are The World, Stevie's presence was critical in working out the complex vocal arrangements. Sitting at the piano he offered suggestions, encouragement and constructive criticism. He even had to guide Bob Dylan, telling him how he should sing his part. The high point of the final vocal performance was Stevie's duet with Bruce Springsteen.
Stevie Wonder Arrested
In 1985 Stevie was arrested for demonstrating outside the South African embassy in Washington D.C.. He was held in custody as a symbol of his commitment to the cause: They said I was disturbing the peace. I was singing.

I Just Called To Say I Love You was nominated for both Oscar and Grammy awards. Though it did not win the Grammy, Stevie did take the coveted Oscar home, though with some controversy. In his acceptance speech at the awards Stevie dedicated it to the then imprisoned black South African leader, Nelson Mandela. This resulted in Stevie Wonder's Music being banned in South Africa.