This Day In Music, May 13: Stevie Wonder, Brian May

Happy birthday to an American musical genius.

By , Contributor

May 13 - Stevie Wonder

Happy birthday today to Stevie Wonder, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, who was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on this day in 1950.They called him the 12-year-old genius, and although Wonder has grown older, the term 'genius' still applies.

Blind from birth and raised in inner-city Detroit, he was a skilled musician by age eight. His first instrument was a harmonica given to him by his uncle; he would later be given a set of toy drums (have you seen him play drums? He's amazing), and then Stevie mastered the piano.

Wonder joined Motown in 1961 (aged 11) and was renamed Little Stevie Wonder by Berry Gordy, Jr.,the president of Motown Records.

The child prodigy scored his first US #1 single,"Fingertips" (the second #1 for the Motown label), two years later in 1963. The track was taken from a live recording of a Motor Town Revue performance and featured a young Marvin Gaye on drums.

Apart from scoring his own hits during the '60s, "Uptight (Everything's Alright)", "My Cherie Amour", Stevie lent his songwriting genius to his Motown label mates, including "Tears of a Clown", a #1 hit for Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

When still only in his mid-20s, Wonder appeared to have mastered virtually every idiom of African-American popular music and to have synthesized them all into a language of his own. His command of the new generation of electronic keyboard instruments made him a pioneer and an inspiration to rock musicians developing into one of the most creative musical figures of the late 20th century.

Wonder has recorded more than 30 US top ten hits and received 22 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist.Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a holiday in the United States.


2007 - Brian May

Brian May was under 24-hour security watch after a deranged man announced he was setting off to murder him - then disappeared.

Police were hunting for a schizophrenic who left a letter behind at his home blaming the Queen guitarist for his illness. In it the man said May was an "impostor" and that HE was the real rock star. He signed the letter "Brian May."

He said he was "going to London", where May lived with his actress wife Anita Dobson. May was told of the letters contents and on police advice brought in 24-hour security at his £2.5million London mansion.

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A former musician, Neil was in the 80's group The Cheaters who were once signed to EMI's Parlophone label, and released three albums. He was also a radio presenter and is still a regular music pundit on various BBC stations. Neil is the founder of the award winning web site This Day in Music which is…

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