Why I Love: Gerry Conway on Stevie Wonder

With Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2020 being put on hold until 2021, there will be a little hole in people’s calendars for the second weekend in August. In a small attempt to offer some consolation, we’ve been very lucky to have each member of Fairport Convention write for us in our Why I Love column.

We’ve heard from Peggy on James Taylor, Chris Leslie on David Grisman and Ric Sanders on Percy Grainger. This week, we welcome the bands’ time keeper…Gerry Conway.

Gerry Conway has, like his bandmates, played with a vast array of musical talent incuding Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, Al Stewart, Steeleye Span, Penangle and Fotheringay (to name a few).

In what might be seen as surprise, Gerry shares his love of the music of the mighty Stevie Wonder; who recently celebrated his 70th birthday.

Stevie Wonder: Rolling Stone Album Guide - Rolling Stone
Stevie Wonder

I heard Stevie Wonder’s first record called Fingertips in 1964 when he was only 12 years old and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

Stevie Wonder eventually started to play most of the instruments on his albums because he is not only a brilliant songwriter, singer, pianist and harmonica player but also a great drummer. He certainly influenced many of the drummers of my generation and beyond because he would play just the right thing for the song.

He writes wonderful love songs and is a great crusader for world peace and social injustice. I regard his double album Songs in the Key of Life as a masterpiece.

Back in the 1970s I was on a world tour with Cat Stevens. We had a night off in Toronto and were invited to Stevie Wonder’s concert. It was a fantastic show and he invited Cat Stevens to come up and sing Superstition with him.

Afterwards, we all went back to his hotel suite and we were able to chat with him. I remember sharing a joke with him about drummers coveting their snare drums and he was talking about learning to drive. That is a great memory for me and it was a privilege to meet one of the greatest musicians of my generation.

Many thanks to Gerry Conway for sharing his thoughts on Stevie Wonder.

Check out a clip of Fairport Convention playing live on their 35th Anniversary Tour in 2002. It features Gerry Conway dropping in a little drum solo towards the end, and features, as ever, imperious playing from the great band.

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