Thomas Morgan Robertson turned 61 today, 14 October 2019. Better known by the stage name Thomas Dolby, the English musician, producer, entrepreneur and teacher; came to prominence in the 1980s, releasing hit singles including “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Hyperactive!”.
He has also worked in production and as a session musician. In the 1990s he founded a Silicon Valley sound technology company, Beatnik, whose technology was used to create the Nokia tune. He was also the Music Director for the TED Conference.
The stage name Thomas Dolby originated from a nickname that he picked up in the early 1970s, when he was “always messing around with keyboards and tapes”. His friends nicknamed him “Dolby”, from the name of the audio noise-reduction process of Dolby Laboratories used for audio recording and playback.
Though he never had many hits, Thomas Dolby became one of the most recognisable figures of the synthpop movement of early-80’s new wave. This was largely due to his skillful marketing. Dolby promoted himself as a kind of mad scientist, an egghead who had successfully harnessed the power of synthesizers and samplers & used them to make catchy pop and light electro-funk.
“I’m not a very proficient keyboard player, so the computer became my musical instrument … None of the equipment is essential, though. In a way, I was happier when I just had one monophonic synthesizer and a two-track tape deck.”
Before he launched a solo career, Dolby had worked as a studio musician, technician, and songwriter; his most notable work as a songwriter was “New Toy”, which he wrote for Lene Lovich, and Whodini’s “Magic’s Wand”.
In 1981 he went solo, which resulted in a number of minor hits and two massive hits: “She Blinded Me with Science” in 1982 and “Hyperactive” in 1984.
Happy birthday, Thomas Dolby! You blinded me with science!
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Featured image of Thomas Dolby via bandsintown.com