6. Mind Full Of Music
that Stevie had the ability to create without the limitations of
Motown, and backed up by financial security, he soared. This period
in his life was one of extreme activity, enormous creativity, new
directions and seemingly limitless change and growth. Remarking
about that time in his life, he says
asked the question again of where am I going, what am I going to do.
I had to see and feel what I wanted to do . . . feel where my
destiny was, or the direction of my destiny anyway. I think that
when you gradually change you still have a certain thing that you
left behind. When you take a very abrupt change, you say, 'Okay,
boom, this is what this is going to be about--click, and you do it.
It was time for a change musically. Spiritually I had gone as far as
I could have gone.
explore the music swirling in his mind he ventured to New York City,
a place now buzzing with state-of-the-art recording studios, and the
latest technological innovations. He lived in a hotel, but spent
most of the time in the studio. It was at this time that he met
Robert Margoulef and Malcolm Cecil, both engineers and composers.
They had recently released and album called
used the Arp and Moog synthesizers to create a cacophony of sounds.
The synthesizer allowed me to do a lot
of things I wanted to do for a long time, but which were just not
possible until it came along. It adds a whole new dimension to
With this new dimension of sound his new compositions now took on
both a more mental flavour and a rock sound, the direct result of
the synthesizers. This in no way sacrificed the emotional content of
his music, but the ARP and Moog did offer him the dimension he
They express what's inside my mind.
Hence the name of the next album he did, the ground-breaking
Music Of My Mind.
Working with him Co-writing some of the songs was Syreeta Wright.
Stevie sank some quarter of a million dollars of his own money into
time at three non-Motown studios in New York and Los Angeles
(Electric Lady and Media Sound in New York, and Crystal Industries
in Los Angeles). There, playing most of the instruments himself and
heavily emphasizing the synthesizers, he independently recorded and
Of My Mind. The
instruments he played included piano, drums, organ, harmonica,
clavichord, clavinet and of course the Synthesizers.
Stevie says about the project,
When you get music and you get
creativity and you get love together, it's pretty heavy.
The album was a truly remarkable departure from anything else Stevie
had done. Yet, more than any of his other records,
Music Of My Mind
emanates the real personality of Stevie Wonder, the raw energy and
emotion he was brimming with. The album really was before its time,
and did not get the recognition that it deserved.
Without exception, all the tracks on
Music Of My Mind
give that feeling of Stevie's wings spreading and his mind venturing
in many directions.
Also of note,
Music Of My Mind
looked as different outside as it sounded inside, and this, too, was
due to Stevie's new artistic say-so and sense of freedom. There was
this sophisticated look about, very differnt from the tacky cover
designs of the Motown controlled albums of the 60's. It was also his
first album to include printed lyrics.
The album marked a milestone in the development of a great talent.
A man who keeps his promise, Stevie in maturity shines with that
same loving and brilliant light that had drawn people to him for a
decade. Born a star, he never lets his technical and artistic
proficiency overshadow his deep humility. This album is a gift to
the spirit from one who really cares.
With this remarkable new material, Stevie went back to talk
business with Motown. His second contract with Motown had lapsed
some time now. He and his lawyer, Johannan Vigoda, went back to
negotiate with Motown, spending six full weeks working out a new
contract. The final result was 120 pages long and absolutely
unprecedented in what it made possible for Stevie, and, ultimately,
for Motown too. Stevie achieved the right to produce and record his
music virtually any place, any time, and any way--he had complete
artistic control. He also owned his own publishing rights, something
no other Motown artist had ever done, and increased royalty rates.
Vigoda, who had previously worked out contracts for such rock
luminaries as Richie Havens and Jimi Hendrix, told Rolling Stone,
"It was a very important contract for Motown, and a very important
contract for Stevie, representing the artists of Motown. He broke
tradition with the deal, legally, professionally--in terms of how he
could cut his records and where he could cut--and in breaking
tradition he opened up the future for Motown. That's what they
understood. They had never had an artist in thirteen years, they had
singles records, they managed to create a name in certain areas, but
they never came through with a major, major artist.
Despite the chagrin and the bad feelings that must have existed for
a time on the part of Motown management, the decision was clearly
the right one for the company to make.
"I'm unashamed to say Stevie and Marvin [Gaye] changed our
approach," Ewart Abner, Motown Records president, told Newsweek.
"They loosened us up. We made a lot of money and we didn't have to
change. They taught us how to have a little fun." With this
"loosening up," Marvin Gaye and Stevie made millions and millions
for Motown, indirectly causing the company to change its promotion
and distribution system. And most significantly, Motown was at last
opened up to the mass white rock audience.