Stevie Wonder visits E.U. Wurlitzer, 1990

Stevie Wonder visits E.U. Wurlitzer, 1990

On October 27, 1990, I was working at E.U. Wurlitzer on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The phone rang and it was my friend Mark, who ran one of the city’s top recording studios, Soundtrax. “Hey, Fritz,” he said. “How busy are you?” Business was slow, so I said, “Jeez, Mark, it’s a Wednesday in the summer in Boston so how busy do you think we are? it’s a ghost town. What’s up?”

And that’s when my lackluster day turned into an unforgettable one. “Well, we have Stevie Wonder over here for a business meeting and he wants to check out a music store,” Mark told me before I interrupted. “Seriously? Stevie Wonder?” I replied with more than a little excitement. “Send him over!”

I hung up the phone but immediately got caught up in work, lost track of time and somehow forgot the big news. About half an hour later, when I was walking to the main E.U. Wurlitzer store, I noticed a couple of limos parked out front. “Holy shit,” I thought. “Stevie Wonder’s in the house.” Sure enough, there was a certain magic in the air when I entered the store and there was the genius himself, sitting in the keyboard room wearing headphones while testing out some equipment. He was smiling and rocking his head back and forth, just as I imagined he would.

Stevie hung around the store for about 30 minutes, graciously posed for pictures and was led to the register for a purchase. “I’ll ring that up,” I said. I’m pretty sure I was scheduled to cover for the store manager that day, though I could be wrong. What I know for sure is that I was the one at the register and I kept a copy of the receipt for the item that he bought. It was a Midiman Merge (a type of keyboard interface) and it cost $324. A member of his entourage handed me an American Express gold card imprinted with the name “Steveland Morris” and, as gigantic Stevie fan, I instantly recognized that as his birth name. “Wow, I’m holding Stevie Wonder’s Amex card,” I thought. “Cool!”

I ran it through one of those old-fashioned, knuckle-cruncher machines and slid the receipt across the counter to Stevie. I panicked for a moment, wondering to myself, “Do blind guys actually sign things?” Almost as quickly as that thought came to my mind, though, one of Stevie’s crew put what appeared to be a 35mm slide on top of the receipt, took Stevie’s right hand in his own and signed the receipt with Stevie’s thumbprint.

I crossed paths with many stars at E.U. Wurlitzer over the years. Whenever I recall all the famous folks I met, though, I always think the same thing: “Stevie Wonder? It just don’t get any bigger than that.”

(by Fritz Jung)

The late Fritz Jung was vice president of E.U. Wurlitzer. He passed away in May 2021 at age 68 in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Published On: April 2, 2024