There’s not much doubt that Stevie Wonder has reached iconic status as an innovative performer and composer in his long career. The multiple Grammy-winner, who is now 60 years old, has been a force in music since he was ‘Little Stevie Wonder’ in the early 1960s, and along the way he’s covered just about every facet of the business.
But as familiar as Stevie Wonder and his music might be now, how many of us remember an early album he made that showed a completely different side? One that was so unusual that he used a false name?
It was in 1968 that the unusual event occurred. By then, Wonder was already a big R&B star, and some of his early hit songs, like “Fingertips,” “Uptight,” and “I Was Made To Love Her,” were already on their way to classic status. But he wanted to do something a little different. Although his debut album, 1962’s The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie, had contained some nice instrumental work by the artist, he wanted to record some soft pop instrumentals that would allow him to show off his harmonica chops.
Using the name ‘Eivets Rednow’ (his own spelled backwards), he recorded an instrumental single of “Alfie,” which had been a popular vocal hit for Dionne Warwick. When it sold well, he immediately followed with an entire album that included that song and a number of others, among them “A House Is Not a Home” and “Grazing In The Grass.”
The album did not reach the heights enjoyed by most of Wonder’s efforts, peaking at number 37 on the R&B album charts, and was probably somewhat of a curiosity among his fans at that time. But it eventually became somewhat of a cult favorite, and at the very least it demonstrates the talent of Eivets — er, Stevie.