July 1974: Stevie Wonder Releases "Fulfillingness' First Finale"

Stevie Wonder performs on stage, playing the drums, at the Rainbow Theatre on 30th January 1974 in London. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
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(Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

By 1974, "Little" Stevie Wonder had grown into an unstoppable force. Now 24 years old, his most recent album, Innervisions, was an instant classic, loaded with stellar songs, including "Living for the City" and "Higher Ground." It was also a big hit at the Grammys, where the album took the prize for Album of the Year.

RELATED: January 1977: Stevie Wonder Hits #1 with "I Wish"

Wonder would follow the socially conscious Innervisions with a more personal effort, Fulfillingness' First Finale. It was the artist's first full-length since a devastating car accident had left him in a coma for four days. Returning to music with a renewed sense of purpose, Wonder crafted enough material for a double-album. While he'd negotiated complete artistic control in his recording contract, Motown pushed back on the idea of a double-album. He made the concession, but not happily. 

"I wish you could hear the other part of the album. It's so much better," Wonder told Melody Maker in November of 1974. "Otherwise, it's gonna have to wait almost another year -- and I'm gonna want to be doing some other stuff by then."

What was there was good enough to send Fulfillingness' First Finale soaring up the charts, where it peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 for the week of September 14, 1974--the first of Wonder's albums to top the mainstream album chart.

The album came with a pair of monster singles: "You Haven't Done Nothin'," a scathing critique of U.S. president Richard Nixon, went all the way to #1 on the Hot 100 for the week of November 2, 1974.

The second single, "Boogie On Reggae Woman," peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 for the week of February 1, 1975. The songs ahead of Stevie Wonder: Neil Sedaka's "Laughter in the Rain" (#1) and Ohio Players, "Fire."

Wonder cleaned up at the Grammys again with Fulfillingness' First Finale, taking home the award for Album of the Year for the second year in a row.

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