Stevie Wonder Remembers Friend and Collaborator Jeff Beck

Upon the news of his passing, Stevie Wonder, like many other musicians, has been reminiscing about his friend and collaborator, the late guitar legend Jeff Beck.

Videos by American Songwriter

“He was a great soul who did great music,” the R&B powerhouse told the Detroit Free Press as he reflected on their musical relationship. “I’m glad that I was able to meet him and have him in my life, giving some of his gift to my music.”

When Wonder met Beck in 1972, he was working on his soon-to-be classic album, Talking Book. The two were introduced by Wonder’s producers at the time, Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil.

“I really didn’t know too much about him,” Wonder recalled of the guitarist. “But then I heard him play in New York. We were working on ‘Lookin’ for Another Pure Love’ (in the studio) and I said to him, ‘Why don’t you play on this?’ He thought that would be great. He laid one part down, then another part and another part. It was just amazing.

“It was just a wonderful thing, the whole deal,” Wonder continued of Beck’s contribution to the track. “He gave it such a mixture — sort of a jazz feel with a bluesy feel, with the chord structure he took from what I had done. It was great. He put his touch on it. It was just really cool.”

On “Lookin’ for Another Pure Love,” Wonder can even be heard saying, “Do it, Jeff” as Beck breaks into his solo.

After being pleased with Beck’s work on the song, Wonder reportedly encouraged the guitarist and his band, Beck, Bogert & Appice, to record his then-unreleased song, “Superstition.” It has often been rumored that “Superstition” was the product of an impromptu jam session between the two, but Wonder explained to the outlet that he had already laid down a rough track of the completed song when he first played it for Beck.

While Beck’s trio recorded their version of “Superstition” first, Motown Records urged Wonder to release his rendition ahead of Beck, Bogert & Appice’s 1973 self-titled debut album.

“I told Motown, ‘Listen, I did this for Jeff Beck. He likes the song,’” Wonder explained, setting the record straight to the Detroit Free Press. “I thought we should make ‘Sunshine of My Life’ the first single [from the ‘Talking Book’ album]. They said, ‘No, no, no, no. The first single should be ‘Superstition.’ So I went back to Jeff and had that discussion.”

In the interview, Wonder squashes any allegations of hard feelings between the two over the song, saying, “We had always been cool.”

After word of Beck’s sudden passing from bacterial meningitis on January 10, Wonder said he gave “Lookin’ for Another Pure Love” another spin.

“When I heard it today, it was emotional for me because I could remember the moment,” he said. “There’s just something about music. I know for you, as a fan, songs take you back to a space in time — you’re right there, right then. The same thing happens for us as writers and singers.”

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

best keyboard stands

5 Best Keyboard Stands of 2024