Tuesday, August 6, 2013
40 Year Itch: Stevie Wonder's Near Fatal Car Accident
Three days after the release of Innervisions, on August 6, 1973, Stevie Wonder and his driver John Harris were involved in a horrible car accident outside Salisbury, North Carolina. With Stevie asleep in the passenger seat, Harris attempted to pass a logging truck. In the words of Stevie Wonder's mother:
"There was a great, grinding screech as metal hit metal and, then, impossibly, as if in some lavishly produced Hollywood action movie, one of the great logs disencumbered itself of the truck and came crashing through the windshield, spearing Stevie square in the forehead."
Wonder was rushed to Winston-Salem's North Carolina Baptist Hospital where doctors discovered Wonder had a broken skull and severe brain contusions. Doctors ruled out surgery. For 5 days, Wonder lay in a coma--his head swollen to nearly three times its normal size.
Wonder's publicist Ira Tucker walked into Wonder's quiet room and witnesed a somber scene. He started singing "Higher Ground" into Stevie's ear. Eventually he noticed a twitch in Wonder's finger, followed by tapping.
After two weeks Wonder would make a full recovery ( although he would lose his sense of taste). He told a newspaper reporter
“The only thing I know,” he said, “is that I was unconscious, and that for a few days, I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future, and what I have to do to reach another higher ground.”
In would be seven months before Wonder performed live again. Looking back on the accident, Wonder told Crawdaddy Magazine:
"What happened to me was a very, very critical thing, and I was really supposed to die," he said. When plastic surgery was suggested to remove the mark left by the crash, he said "I will leave it as one of the scars of life I went through."