'W' is for Stevie Wonder because this tribute brings back the memories of fist discovering swing bands and jazz...Tom Waits has had equal impact on what I listen to but Stevie was earlier in my life
The song was written in tribute to Duke Ellington, the influential jazz legend who had died in 1974. The lyrics also refer to Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
Wonder wrote the song as a tribute to Duke Ellington, a jazz pianist who had an influence on him as a musician. Wonder had already experienced the passing of two of his idols (Dinah Washington and Wes Montgomery) after attempting to collaborate with them.