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Stevie Wonder Says ‘Emotional’ Tony Bennett GRAMMYs Duet Was His Idea

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Stevie Wonder is opening up about the touching GRAMMYs tribute he pulled off in honor of his late friend, Tony Bennett

Talking with ET’s Kevin Frazier from the red carpet premiere of Bob Marley: One Love in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the legendary musician, 73, said it was his idea to perform a duet with Bennett at music’s biggest night. 

“It was an emotional moment,” the “Superstition” singer tells ET. “It was an idea I sort of came up with. And I kind of brought it to the people at the GRAMMYs and — and they said, ‘We’re gonna make this happen,’ and they did.” 

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During the GRAMMYs, Wonder performed “For Once in My Life” set to archival footage of Bennett before turning to a rendition of “The Best Is Yet to Come.” Bennett died in July at the age of 96. 

“Tony, I’m going to miss you forever,” said the singer during the In Memoriam segment. “I love you always and God bless that God allowed us to have you, and have us, in this time and space in our lives.”

Wonder also took a moment to acknowledge the “Rags to Riches” singer for his “love for art, his love for peace, his love for unity, his love for civil rights.” 

Over the years, Bennett and Wonder collaborated a handful of times, including for a version of “For Once in My Life” for Duets: The Making of an American Classic. The song went on to win a GRAMMY in 2007 for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. 

Wonder’s interview with ET on Tuesday took place at the premiere for a movie honoring another one of his late friends, Bob Marley, who he performed with several times early on in his career. 

One of those performances occurred in Marley’s home country of Jamaica during the Wonder Dream Concert in October 1975. Wonder said he remembers distinctly the night leading up to the big show and feeling nervous and excited. 

“The night before, I was in L.A. and I recorded the vocals of ‘Loves in Need of Love Today,'” the singer said. “And, obviously, I was excited to celebrate music with Bob Marley, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful moment. When I think of moments in life, I think of that concert. I think of performing with him.” 

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Wonder mentioned that it was thinking back on that night that led to him to write his song, “Master Blaster (Jammin),” which by all accounts is considered an ode to the Jamaican singer. The song released in 1980, just one year before Marley’s untimely death. 

The “Superstition” singer told ET he had hoped and thought “someday we’d perform together again,” but that ultimately that did not happen, as Marley died at just 31 years old from acral lentiginous melanoma. 

“Unfortunately, the spirits called him to another journey. But I just celebrate his commitment to our culture, to the world culture of peace, unity.” Wonder said.

Bob Marley: One Love premieres in theaters on Feb. 14.

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