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Marvin Gaye's National Anthem completes the circle [VIDEO]

Thomas Dolby: Networks can't handle a black man singing a soulful National Anthem...
 
 
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Guest post by Thomas Dolby; first appeared on Thomas Dolby's blog HERE.

I just watched a clip on YouTube that filled in a missing blank in my personal history. And I'm blubbing my eyes out right now.

In 1985 I was asked to perform live at the Grammy Awards with Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Howard Jones. [Note: there is also a clip of this, but that's NOT what this blog is about. Read on!] The producers wanted us to play a synth medley consisting of one hit from each of us, and ending with the US National Anthem. As the TV show was to be mimed, we were booked to record the backing track the day before the dress rehearsal at Stevie's studio on Western in Los Angeles, which was a huge and beautiful old movie theater.

This was quite an elaborate process, and it took all day. Towards nightfall Stevie's manager took myself and Howard aside and told us that Stevie was going to play a practical joke on Herbie, and it was going to be filmed for a TV show called 'Bloopers.' Stevie had told Herbie that we'd been recording on a brand new prototype Sony 48-track digital recorder, and that two top Sony executives from Japan were coming to be filmed with us at the session. They showed up, bowing very cheerfully, everybody danced around to our groovy backing track, and the cameraman was getting it all down. But suddenly someone in the control room pressed the wrong button, and the tape went silent. It seemed all 48 tracks had mistakenly gone into 'erase' mode, leaving a 5-second silence in our recording.

Of course, everybody but Herbie knew it was all a hoax. They allowed him to suffer for about 5 minutes before telling him the truth. Everybody was delighted with the joke, even Herbie, and around midnight people started to disperse to different parts of the building.

But I was a bit concernced as we had not yet recorded 'The Star Spangled Banner', and we were due at the Grammy's rehearsal in about 10 hours' time. So I went to look for Stevie in the maze of small rooms scattered around the building. Usually he is pretty easy to find as there's an entourage of several people with him. But on this occasion he was nowhere to be found.

I eventually tracked Stevie down. He was ...

Thomas Dolby is the genius behind "She Blinded Me with Science" and numerous other songs.

 
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