Rolling Out

Why Chaka Khan rejected Stevie Wonder’s song

The iconic singer tells the backstory
Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Chaka Khan told Stevie Wonder she didn’t like the song he offered her funk band Rufus.

The 74-year-old music legend gave the “Ain’t Nobody” hitmaker “Come and Get This Stuff” to put her spin on, but she refused and asked if he had anything else.

“And I told Stevie, ‘I don’t like it — what else you got? I don’t like your song, what else have you got?’ ” the ever-candid star recalled in an interview with The Independent.

The 71-year-old singer admits she often “upsets people” by speaking the truth.

“I don’t think he ever heard that at all. But I wasn’t thinking about that. I just tell the truth all the time, and I can’t help it. It upsets people sometimes. But hell, if the truth upsets you, I can’t really help that,” she continued.

However, Wonder was not offended and ended up giving them “Tell Me Something Good,” which just so happened to become a top five hit in 1974 in the U.S.

“Stevie said, ‘What’s your birth sign?’ Aries. ‘Oh, I got the song for you …’ And then he started playing that ‘wakka-wakka’ on the keyboard, and — bam! — there it was,” she remembered.

The “I’m Every Woman” hitmaker admitted she never got over the heartbreak her record label caused when they changed Rufus to Rufus and Chaka Khan, adding that she and her bandmates are still not on proper speaking terms.

“The record company renamed us Rufus and Chaka Khan.

“That caused a huge rift in how the band felt about me. I was totally against it and made that very clear. But the label said, ‘Go along with it, or forget it.’ Of course, I had to ride the pony, for everybody’s sake. But it broke my heart, for them to feel … secondary to me. We’d all been equals. But something beautiful died during that second album, Rags to Rufus, and people are still recovering from what happened. I love those guys. But we can’t talk straight like we used to anymore,” she said.

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