It was on January 18th, 1989 when Stevie Wonder became the youngest person to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, at age 38. To be eligible for induction, an artist’s debut record must be at least 25 years old. In 1962 at just 12 years old, Stevie Wonder released his first album The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie on Motown subsidiary label, Tamla. The record is unique in that it is one of only two albums in which Wonder does not sing. The album starts off with “Fingertips”, a song that would become a number one hit a year later when a live version was released, and held the top chart position for three weeks. With that single, Little Stevie Wonder became the youngest solo performer to top the Billboard charts at age 13. Fun fact: the drumming on both the live and studio version of “Fingertips” is by fellow Motown artist, Marvin Gaye.
After an already successful career in the 1960’s, Stevie Wonder truly entered his artistic renaissance in the ‘70’s. In 1970, Signed, Sealed, Delivered became the first record in which Wonder received credit as a producer, and lead him into string of successful albums culminating in his best-selling work, 1976’s Songs in the Key of Life. The record was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2005, and has achieved Diamond status by the RIAA for selling over 5 million copies in the United States.
By the time he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Wonder had released 21 studio albums, had numerous hit songs, best selling albums, 14 Grammy awards, innumerable additional honors, and had established himself as a hugely influential singer, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, and political activist.
Today Warm 106.9 is happy to celebrate the life and music of Stevie Wonder, inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on this day in 1989.
Watch Stevie Wonder and John Legend perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary show.
More Fun Facts:
Stevie Wonder was inducted in the same year as The Temptations, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, and Dion. Paul Simon gave the induction speech for Wonder.
In 2012, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer overtook Wonder as the youngest Hall of Fame inductee at age 32, though Klinghoffer had only played released one album with the Chili Peppers at that time
The 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame takes place on March 29, and will feature new inductees The Cure, The Zombies, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, and Roxy Music.