Stevie Wonder credits late soul star Ray Charles with inspiring him to have faith in his talent after they were introduced by record company bosses - but he was surprised to discover his idol was also blind.

Wonder recorded his TRIBUTE TO UNCLE RAY LP in 1962, and he was delighted to receive words of wisdom from the I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU icon.

But Wonder had no idea Charles was also unable to see.

He says, "It was only when I was 11 and I recorded Tribute To Uncle Ray that I found out he was blind.

"I think it was at the Ford Auditorium, or maybe the Masonic Temple (in Detroit, Michigan). He came out of his dressing room, and some people were leading him over to me. He was kind of jumping up and down a little bit.

"I presented him with the album and he said, 'Keep on doing what you're doing, young man.' And his drummer gave me a pair of drumsticks. I was so happy!"

16/05/2005 21:28