Thomas Dolby Biography

Thomas Morgan Robertson, 14 October 1958, Cairo, Egypt. Dolby is a self-taught musician/vocalist/songwriter and computer programmer. After studying meteorology and projectionism at college, he started building his own synthesizers at the age of 18. With his own hand-built PA system he acted as sound engineer on tours by the Members, Fall and the Passions. Afterwards, he co-founded Camera Club with Bruce Wooley in January 1979, before joining the Lene Lovich backing group in September 1980, for whom he wrote ‘New Toy’. His first solo output was the single ‘Urges’ on the Armageddon label in 1981, before he scored hits the following year with ‘Europa’ and ‘The Pirate Twins’. For a series of 1982 concerts at the Marquee he recruited ex-Soft Boys Matthew Seligman and Kevin Armstrong of the Thompson Twins, while finding time to contribute to albums by M, Joan Armatrading and Foreigner. Other collaborations included Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Dusty Springfield, Howard Jones and Grace Jones. The most visual of such appearances came when he backed David Bowie at Live Aid. A strong ‘mad scientist’ image proliferated in his videos, which also featured famous British eccentric Magnus Pike. These earned him a strong media profile, but, surprisingly, his best-known singles, ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ and ‘Hyperactive’, only peaked at numbers 31 and 17, respectively. The latter did, however, reach the Top 5 in the USA, and charted in the UK again when re-released in 1996. As well as production for Prefab Sprout and Joni Mitchell, Dolby scored music for several movies including Howard: A New Breed Of Hero. He married actress Kathleen Beller (Kirby Colby from Dynasty). In 1993, he founded the computer software company Headspace, an enterprise that began to take precedence over his musical activities. Dolby commands high respect in the music business, as his back-room contributions have already been considerable.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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