When it comes to the harmonica, Stevie Wonder is a true virtuoso. Ever since he burst onto the scene as “Little Stevie Wonder” with his single “Fingertips” in 1963, Stevie’s talents have been on show with regards to most instruments, but in this post we highlight his amazing harmonica playing.
For a sample of Stevie’s extraordinary talent, check out the solo on “For Once in My Life”, which both Wonder and The Temptations released; Stevie’s version peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts.
Wonder has one of the most signature harmonica styles in all of popular music. To paraphrase a saying, ‘if you could hear a smile, you’d hear Wonder’s harmonica.’
Stevie’s primary harmonica is a chromatic rather than the normal diatonic style typically heard in most blues tunes. Chromatic has up to 16 air holes as compared to the 10 usually found on a diatonic harmonica, so it offers a wider range of sounds, but also, the chromatic is significantly harder to play.
The solo on “For Once in My Life” is truly a piece of art; Wonder’s playing bends into and/or out of every note, sometimes at lightning speed, and with all the soul of his wonderful voice shining through on every note.
Like the best guitar solos and vocal melodies, you can sing or hum along to any of Stevie’s classics. Whether you’re listening to him sing or play harmonica, his style is instantly recognizable and undeniable.
Check out Stevie playing “For Once in My Life” below: