For summer 1982, one of the songs of the day was a duet by two superstars: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.
Written by McCartney for his third solo album Tug of War, the song was initially a comment on how songs are made from the white key and black keys of a piano. But the deeper meaning is about racial equality and harmony.
Because of conflicting schedules, McCartney and Wonder recorded separately, with studio machinery and skill creating the striking harmony and duet for release in March 1982.
The album was produced by George Martin, well-known for his work with McCartney when he was making albums with The Beatles and was released after the death of his former writing partner and band mate John Lennon.
Ebony and Ivory was the first single from Tug of War, and released on Columbia Records in the US and Parlaphone in the UK.
This song was McCartney’s most successful release post-Beatles, spending seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Check out the duet here.
The song also became notorious as it was banned by South Africa’s national radio, because of collaborator Stevie Wonder’s support of ANC leader Nelson Mandela.
Although many critics didn’t like the song, it was still chosen as one of Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time in 2013.