Theres an extract from Gil Scot Herons memoir [out Jan 16] gone up on The Independent. It's worth a read.
Godfather of rap's last words: Exclusive extract from Gil Scott-Heron’s posthumous memoir.
snip: "... In 1980, Stevie joined with the members of the Black Caucus in the United States Congress to speak out for the need to honour the day Dr King was born, to make his birthday a national holiday. The campaign began in earnest on Hallowe'en of 1980 in Houston, Texas, with Stevie's national tour supporting a new LP called Hotter than July, featuring the song "Happy Birthday", which advocated a holiday for Dr King. I arrived in Houston in the early afternoon to join the tour as the opening act. I was invited to do the first eight shows, covering two weeks, and I felt good about being there, about seeing Stevie and his crazy brother Calvin again.
I was tired already, sweaty and exhausted from a five-minute trudge uphill, learning as I trudged why this block-sized enclosure was called "the Summit". I had just found a stage entrance for a venue I had never played. The places I had played in Texas on prior trips could fit into this sprawling hothouse about 10 times and still leave room for the Rockets to play their games without me getting in their way. It was an impressive sight. Choreographed chaos on a Roman scale. But suddenly somebody called my name. Well, not exactly my name, but somebody's name for me, the name he always used, my astrological sign. So I knew who it was. It was somebody who shouldn't have seen me come in. Howzat?
The call for me rang out again, echoing around in the cavernous hall: "Air-rees!"
I scanned the upper reaches of the place, looking for Stevie Wonder.
And there he was, in a seat near the top row in the bowl-shaped theatre. He was leaning forward in my direction from the sound booth. Alone. There was no mistaking him. His corn rows were surrounded with a soft suede cover. Large, dark sunglasses hid most of the top half of his face, and a huge, joker's grin furnished the lower half. He had a wireless mike in his hand and, again with the grin, was saying, "Come on up here, Air-rees!"
I started for the stairs, still scanning. Now I could see there was an engineer-type person in the booth, but his back was turned to Stevie and I didn't believe I knew the man anyway. Or that he had identified me.
He hadn't. But since I hadn't figured it out yet and Stevie was having such a good time messing with my head...
"How you been, man," I said as I climbed. "If you saw me get outta that cab from the airport, you shoulda helped me pay for it."
"We felt your vibes, Air-rees," Stevie said, and he laughed out loud, shook his head, and held his hundred-watt smile.
I agreed to be on by 8.05 pm each night and to hit my last note no later than 9.05. That would give the humpers and stage muscle 25 to 30 minutes to change the sets for Stevie and [backing group] Wonderlove. Stevie's set would run the clock out, but at 11.30 or so he would call for back-up to do his last two numbers: "Master Blaster", the reggae-flavoured tune that included the line that was the title of his new LP, and "Happy Birthday", his tribute to Dr King.
The people producing the shows [were] worrying about us starting and stopping on time. I thought that was funny as hell, knowing that Bob Marley and the Wailers were coming in after two weeks. "Them brothers don't start rolling their show joints until they're 10 minutes late," I told [the stage manager]...."