Fingertips

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This article is about the song by Stevie Wonder. For other uses, see Fingertips (disambiguation).
"Fingertips"
Single by Little Stevie Wonder
from the album The 12 Year Old Genius
A-side "Fingertips - Part 1"
B-side "Fingertips - Part 2"
Released May 21, 1963
Format 7" single
Recorded Regal Theater, Chicago; June 1962
Genre R&B, soul
Length 2:49 (part 1), 3:09 (part 2)
Label Tamla
T 54080
Writer(s) Clarence Paul
Henry Cosby
Producer(s) Berry Gordy, Jr.
Stevie Wonder chronology
"Contract On Love"
(1962)
"Fingertips"
(1963)
"Workout, Stevie, Workout"
(1963)

"Fingertips" is a 1963 number one hit single recorded live by "Little" Stevie Wonder for Motown's Tamla label.[1] Wonder's first hit single, "Fingertips" was the first live, non-studio recording to reach number one on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the United States since Johnny Standley's 1952 comic monologue "It's in the Book".

Overview[edit]

Written and composed by Wonder's mentors, Clarence Paul and Henry Cosby, "Fingertips" was originally a jazz instrumental recorded for Wonder's first studio album, The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie. The live version of the song was recorded in June 1962 during a Motortown Revue performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Containing only a few stanzas of lyrics, "Fingertips" is essentially an instrumental piece, meant to showcase Wonder's talents on the bongos and the harmonica.

"Part 2"[edit]

The edit point that begins "Part 2" of "Fingertips" is when Wonder shouts "Everybody say 'yeah!'", initiating a call and response exchange with the audience. After a couple of sung verses, each followed by a bit of Wonder's harmonica playing (solos accompanied only by the audience's rhythmic clapping),[1] Wonder appears to bring things to a conclusion. On the night of the recording, Wonder, as usual started to leave the stage and the band went into the exit music; however, he unexpectedly changed his mind, returning to sing the "goodbye" encore. The other musicians were caught out, and the bass players had changed over to prepare for the next act on the bill, Mary Wells. As Wonder moves into his impromptu encore, the new bass player, Larry Moses, can be heard on the recording, yelling out, "What key? What key?".[1][2]

Release[edit]

The live version of "Fingertips" was released on May 21, 1963 as a two-part single, with Part 2 (with the encore) as the B-side. By August, the single B-side had reached the top of both the Billboard Pop Singles and R&B Singles charts.[3] "Fingertips" was Motown's second number-one pop hit (following The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman"), and launched the 13-year-old Wonder into the pop music stratosphere. The single's success helped Wonder's live album, Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius, reach number-one on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, making him the youngest artist to accomplish that feat.

Both the studio and live versions of the song featured drumming by Marvin Gaye, who had been playing drums for Wonder and other Motown artists in 1960 before becoming a famous hitmaker in his own right.

Personnel[edit]

  • Recording engineer, Ron Steele Sr.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Stevie Wonder interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  2. ^ Tenley Williams (1 Jan 2002). Stevie Wonder. Infobase Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 9781438122632. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"So Much in Love" by The Tymes
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
(by Little Stevie Wonder)

August 10, 1963 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels
Preceded by
"Easier Said Than Done" by The Essex
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
August 3, 1963 – September 7, 1963 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Heat Wave" by Martha and The Vandellas