Thursday, May 3, 2007

Thomas Dolby

She Blinded Me With Science

Thomas Dolby (born Thomas Morgan Robertson, in Cairo Egypt on 14 October 1958) is an English musician, producer, and inventor best known for his 1982 synth pop hit and above video "She Blinded Me With Science".

The "Dolby" nickname comes from the name Dolby Laboratories, and was given to him by friends impressed with his studio tinkering. Dolby Laboratories was reportedly very displeased with Robertson using the company name as his own stage name and sued him, trying to stop him from using the name Dolby entirely. Eventually, the case was settled out of court and it was agreed that he would refrain from using the word Dolby in any context other than with the name Thomas.

Musical background
Dolby is associated with Synthpop, a form of pop music incorporating electronic instruments. His most recognized song is "She Blinded Me With Science" with sound samples from Magnus Pyke, although he describes this track as his least favorite. Most of Dolby's work covers a wide range of musical styles and moods distinct from the high-energy pop sound of his few, better known commercial successes.

Early in his career, he played keyboards with Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club and is credited on their debut album. Dolby played some synth parts on the Thompson Twins album Set. He is also the author of Lene Lovich's hit single "New Toy," and co-wrote "Magic's Wand" with Whodini.

Perhaps his most popular side-gig was as keyboard player on Def Leppard's 1983 Pyromania album. Due to contractual problems (they did not share the same record label), Dolby appeared on Pyromania using the alias Booker T. Boffin.

Dolby contributed the signature synthesizer sound on the track "Urgent" on Foreigner's 1981 album. On the same album he played the atmospheric synth intro to the mega-hit "Waiting For A Girl Like You".

In 1985, Dolby appeared at the Grammy Awards, which was televised, along with Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and Howard Jones. All four musicians were big on the mid-1980s music scene, and they were also all keyboard and synthesizer experts. This performance can be found on YouTube.

The same year, Dolby performed at the Live Aid concert in London as part of David Bowie's band.

In 1990, he appeared in the huge charity concert performance of Roger Waters's rock opera "The Wall" in Berlin, organized by Roger Waters: he played keyboards in "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" (sung by Cyndi Lauper), and then played the Teacher's role in the sequence "The Trial".

He appeared on-stage with the reunited Soft Boys in San Francisco on April 7, 2001 and played synthesizer on "You'll Have To Go Sideways", "Evil Guy" and Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine". "Evil Guy", from that evening's sound-check, wound up on the Soft Boys' 2002 EP Side Three. It was not the first time Dolby and members of the Soft Boys appeared on record together. Dolby played keyboards on Robyn Hitchcock's first solo album, Black Snake Diamond Role. Meanwhile Hitchcock appeared on Dolby's Flat Earth, performing the role of Keith on "White City." Soft Boys bassist Matthew Seligman recorded and toured with Dolby in the 1980s.
Dolby returned to his musical career in 2006, completing a string of small dates in California and a single mall opening in Boulder, Colorado before receptive crowds. He performed his first solo public show in 25 years at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco, California on January 21, 2006, surprising the crowd who were there to see local band Notorious. He then launched an American tour, the Sole Inhabitant Tour, on April 12, 2006.

Other interests
In 1993, Dolby established himself as a successful business entrepreneur after founding Beatnik Inc. (formerly Headspace), a technology company specializing in mobile phone audio file formats, such as polyphonic ring tones for mobile phones.

While still remaining on the company board, Dolby stepped down from his position as CEO of Beatnik Inc. to pursue other technologically innovative interests, such as founding Retro Ringtones LLC in 2002, which produces the RetroFolio™ ring tone asset management software suite for companies involved in the mobile phone ringtone business. At the second annual Mobile Music Awards, Miami, Florida in 2004 RetroFolio won "Best of Show" and "Best New Technology" awards.

Dolby's musical talents have also been put to use recently creating hundreds of digital polyphonic ringtones now found on mobile phones everywhere (including the polyphonic version of the infamous Nokia signature theme). He is often a major speaker at technology conferences such as Comdex, Websphere and Nokia.

He has also worked as a producer and a soundtrack composer for both films and video games.
In July 1998, Thomas received a Lifetime Achievement in Internet Music award from Yahoo! Internet Life.

Studio albums

The Golden Age of Wireless (1982)
The Flat Earth (1984)
Aliens Ate My Buick (1988)
Astronauts & Heretics (1992)
The Gate To The Mind's Eye (video soundtrack and album) (1994)

Retrospectacle: The Best of Thomas Dolby (1994)
12x12 Original Remixes (1999)
Forty: Live Limited Edition (2001)
The Sole Inhabitant (live concert CD & DVD) (2006)

Blinded by Science (1982)
(as Dolby's Cube) May The Cube Be With You (1985) (Produced by Thomas Dolby and François Kevorkian with Lene Lovich and George Clinton)
Hot Sauce/Salsa Picante (1988)
One of our Submarines (2003)

(as Dolby's Cube) Howard The Duck Soundtrack (tracks) (1986)
Music From The Film 'Gothic' (1987)
"The Mirror Song" (from Toys soundtrack) (1992)
The Dark Eye (inSCAPE) (1995)

"Europa And The Pirate Twins"1
"She Blinded Me With Science"1
"One Of Our Submarines"
"I Scare Myself"
"Hot Sauce"
"Close But No Cigar"
"I Love You Goodbye"
"Silk Pyjamas"

Dolby married actress Kathleen Beller in 1988; the couple have three children together.
Mobb Deep's song Got it Twisted contains the string line from "She Blinded Me with Science" at a slower speed.

Dolby supported Depeche Mode in their infamous Rose Bowl concert on June 18th, 1988.
"She Blinded Me with Science", was featured very shortly in the "Treehouse of Horror XIV" episode of The Simpsons, where Professor Frink was winning an award at a science convention. When he walked up on stage, it played the song.

The song Hyperactive! is featured in the 2002 PlayStation 2 videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as part of the New Wave radio station Wave 103.

External links
The Flat Earth Society: Thomas Dolby - which includes a blog begun in March 2006
The Unofficial Thomas Dolby
Beatnik - ringtones created by Thomas Dolby's latest business venture

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