May 1982: Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder Hit No. 1 with "Ebony and Ivory"

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Photo Credit
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Megastars Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder united to create one megahit message of harmony with this No. 1 song. Released in March 1982, the upbeat tune leapt to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 by May for a run of 7 weeks. 

Here are five facts you should know about this iconic duet!

5. McCartney was in the midst of working on his 1982 album Tug of Warwhen he was inspired to pen the song after seeing English comedian do a bit about the equalizing nature of a black and white-keyed piano. 

He recalled to Mojo magazine in 2009, "It was like, 'Why can't we get it together - our piano can."

4. When McCartney phoned Little Stevie to pitch him the song, Wonder quickly took on the opportunity to work together and create an anthem for racial unity.

"I listened to the song, and I liked it very much," reminisced Wonder. "I felt it was positive for everybody. I won’t say it demanded of people to reflect upon it, but it politely asks the people to reflect upon life in using the terms of music … this melting pot of many different people."

3. George Martin, the producer and mastermind behind many classic hits, including the Beatles' "Sister Golden Hair," jumped onto the track. This marked Martin's 21st production to chart at No. 1, his 22nd would be another McCartney duet - this time with the King of Pop Michael Jackson. 

2. Even as he wrote the song, McCartney felt concerned about the song's denouncement of racism with concern to the song's timing, mulling on how culturally woke its message would seem to a nation already making social progress. 

"When I wrote the song, I thought 'Maybe we don't need to keep talking about black and white. Maybe the problem is solved,'" he explained. "Maybe I missed the boat — maybe it should have been written in the '60s, this song. But after I'd written and recorded it, you look around and there's still tension."

1. Though McCartney and Wonder grouped up at AIR Studios in Montserrat for the song recording, they were unable to coordinate their schedules to film the "Ebony and Ivory" music video in-person together. See the video below to see the magical editing that united the duo!


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