No Wonder DJ is flustered as superstar plays hard to get

Click to follow
It was to have been Radio 1's finest hour, but it turned into its longest.

Yesterday, the Radio 1 broadcaster Simon Mayo suffered the ultimate live radio nightmare. He had Stevie Wonder, the international superstar, on stage with piano at Ronnie Scott's in London for an exclusive performance before an invited celebrity audience, including much of the BBC management. The blind singer- songwriter emerged to rousing applause but then, to the horror of the perspiring Mayo, refused to play. The ensuing and increasingly agonised dialogue will be cherished in the footnotes of live radio history.

Mayo: "You're going to lead off with Conversation Peace [Wonder's new album]."

Wonder: "Actually I don't want to do that. You can play some cuts from the CD if you want." Mayo: "We don't have a CD player plugged up." Wonder: "I can't believe in all of England you don't have a CD player." Mayo: "Could you do a few bars of `I'm New'? Would that be an acceptable suggestion?"

Wonder: "Probably not." Mayo: " `Bring Your Love Home'?'' Wonder: "I don't think so. I'm not saying I can't do it with just piano. Because I can. But I don't want to."

Someone then helpfully shouted out a request for the song "Things Can Only Get Better". But the sentiment was misplaced. Things got more surreal. Forty minutes passed, by which time the singer had sung one-and-a-half songs. A CD player was set up, and the audience watched Wonder listening to his own CD. Suddenly, though, he seemed to get the bug and started a piano jazz improvisation. Some of the celebrities came on stage to sing with him, and he collapsed with laughter as they got the words wrong.

Then, nearly an hour into the broadcast, he decided to save the day from complete disaster, and, brilliantly, sang five songs listeners had most requested.