You Mean That Isn’t … ?

John Valenti’s “Anything You Want” only made it to #37 on the Billboard charts in 1976, so you’re forgiven if you don’t remember it. That said, give a listen and tell me you wouldn’t believe it’s Stevie Wonder vocals over a generic disco stomp. The biggest giveaway is the guitar solo instead of a synth or clavinet.

Back in ’71, when he was still using his real last name of LiVigni, John covered Stevie Winwood’s “Gimme Some Lovin’.” You can hear the similarity to Stevie Wonder’s range, but the phrasing hasn’t moved into mimicry yet.

John then sang lead for Puzzle, one of the few white bands on the Motown label. (Rare Earth was another.) With a lot of horns, Puzzle clearly had been listening to the first few Chicago albums. By 1973, the Stevie influence is getting stronger.

I can’t find a published obituary for John Valenti, but a Facebook page in his name says he passed away in early 2020. His death was marked by the French version of Rolling Stone magazine which says he retired from his music career music to raise a family, design speaker cabinets, and paint landscapes. John’s son, Tony LiVigni, hopes to finish some informal recordings John made in those last few years.