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|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|
|Recorded||Regal Theater, Chicago; June 1962|
|Length||2:49 (part 1), 3:09 (part 2)|
|Producer||Berry Gordy, Jr.|
|Stevie Wonder chronology|
"Fingertips" is a 1963 number one hit single recorded live by "Little" Stevie Wonder for Motown's Tamla label. 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".
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 Wonder. 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.
The edit point that begins "Part 2" of "Fingertips" comes as Wonder transforms what had been an instrumental performance till now with "Everybody say 'yeah!'" initiating a call and response exchange with the audience. After a couple of sung verses, each followed by a bit of Stevie's harmonica wizardry (solos accompanied only by the audience's rhythmic clapping), Wonder brings things to a conclusion with a sly quote from "Mary Had a Little Lamb." At this point, he leaves the stage and the band goes into its exit music. This turns out to be a false ending however, as Wonder appears back onstage for an encore, returning to his harmonica, bongos, and the vocal microphone. The other musicians were not aware Wonder would stage an encore, and bassist Larry Moses (who was not part of Wonder's band) had actually walked out on the stage to prepare for his song with the next act on the bill, Mary Wells. As the song is about to resume, Moses can be heard on the recording, yelling out, "What key? What key?" (The song's key is C minor.)
The live version of "Fingertips" was released in May 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. "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.
Cover versions and samples
- This song is sampled in "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan.
- Art-rock band Sparks included a synthesiser-based cover of "Fingertips" on their fourteenth album Music That You Can Dance To
- Samples of this song can be heard in Le Juan Love's single "Everybody Say Yeah"
- The song is featured in the opening scene of the Quantum Leap episode "One Strobe Over the Line"
- The song was performed by Sounds Incorporated when they opened for The Beatles at their famous 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in New York City.
- Vocals, bongos, and harmonica by Little Stevie Wonder
- Drums by Marvin Gaye
- Bass by James Jamerson, Larry Moses
- Recording engineer, Ron Steele Sr.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803.
- Little Stevie Wonder: Fingertips at Discogs (list of releases)
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
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