LONDON: Stevie Wonder surprised concertgoers in London Saturday night by announcing that he will take a break from performing so that he can receive a kidney transplant this fall.
The 69-year-old music legend made the announcement after performing "Superstition" at the end of a packed British Summer Time concert in London's Hyde Park.
Wonder said he’ll do three more shows and then undergo the surgery in September.
He said he has a donor, adding, “it’s all good,” drawing cheers from the audience.
He said he was speaking out to quell rumors and sought to reassure fans that he would be okay. There had been a recent report that he was facing a serious health issue.
Wonder was performing as part of a summer concert in London’s Hyde Park. He told the audience he was there to share his love and to thank them for theirs.
"I'm going to be doing three shows then taking a break," he said. "I'm having surgery. I'm going to have a kidney transplant at the end of September this year."
He said a donor has been found and that he would be fine, drawing cheers from a devoted crowd of tens of thousands that stretched out from the stage as far as the eye could see.
"I came here to give you my love and to thank you for yours," he said. "You ain't gonna hear no rumors about us. I'm good."
He did not provide additional information about his kidney illness. There had been a recent report that Wonder was facing a serious health issue.
A representative for Wonder didn't immediately respond to a request Saturday for details about his health. He has kept an active schedule, including performing recently at a Los Angeles memorial service for slain rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Wonder, who has received more than two-dozen Grammy Awards, has produced a string of hits over a long career that began when he was a youngster who performed as Little Stevie Wonder.
His classic hits include You Are the Sunshine of My Life and Living for the City.
Wonder seemed in top form throughout the concert, performing a series of his hits and paying tribute to musical heroes including Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and John Lennon.
He performed stirring rendition of the latter's Imagine near the end of the show.
He fans reveled in the warm summer night — though a light drizzle fell near the end — and the career-spanning retrospective that evoked Wonder's early days as a young Motown star.
He did seem less ebullient than in the past and made his health announcement in a somber tone with a severe look on his face. But he was smiling as he left the stage with the band playing the memorable conclusion of Superstition one final time
WHO IS STEVIE WONDER?
Stevie Wonder is the stage name of Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer who rose to popularity in the early 1960s.
Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy known as “Little Stevie Wonder” leading him to sign with Motown's Tamla label at the age of 11.
In 1963, the single Fingertips was a No. 1 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart.
Wonder started his "classic period" with Talking Book (1972), which featured the No. 1 hit "Superstition". Between 1972 and 1977, Stevie is noted for his funky keyboard style, personal control of production, and series of songs integrated with one another to make a concept album.
It is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner Clavinet keyboard.
His Innervisions (1973) won Album of the Year at the 16th Grammy Awards.
Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974) also won Album of the Year at the 17th Annual Grammy Awards.
Songs in the Key of Life (1976) won Album of the Year at the 19th Annual Grammy Awards, making Wonder, along with Frank Sinatra, the most Album of the Year's winner with three.
He is also the only artist to have won the award with three consecutive album releases.
Wonder's 1970s albums are regarded very influential; the Rolling Stone Record Guide said they "pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of pop music for the next decade".
Today, he is one of the most successful musicians of the 20th century and a leading figure in popular music.
Wonder has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
He has won 25 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists of all time. He was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the 1984 film The Woman in Red.
Wonder was inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a holiday in the United States.
In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.