UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Stevie Wonder  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Michael Ochs Archives

50 years ago today, a 12-year-old musical prodigy calling himself "Little" Stevie Wonder recorded his first song "Thank You (For Loving Me All the Way)." The soulful, bossa nova-inflected track—anchored by a still-subversive lyrical twist at track's end—was hardly a runaway success, but kicked off the career of one of the most influential and important songwriters in 20th century music.

Wonder's "classic" period is often cited as starting with 1972's Music of My Mind and extending to 1977's Songs in the Key of Life. But to celebrate the milestone, we decided to go back with this Stevie Wonder Early Years Playlist, commemorating the singer's best tracks you may not have heard from 1962 to 1971. It's some of the best music in Motown and a crucial reminder of the singer's early genius. Enjoy.