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Thomas Dolby | Thomas Dolby

name check


Last year, we hear, Dolby Laboratories took Thomas Dolby to court in San Francisco for use of 'their' name.

Dolby it is who make the noise reduction gadget invented by Ray Dolby that you find on most tape recorders; theirs is that little double-D symbol that you get on pre-recorded tapes, meaning Dolby-encoded.

Tom's management tell us that 'Dolby' originated as a nickname for the recording-obsessed, teen-aged Thomas Morgan Robertson. When he started making records later, Tom Robinson was established, so Thomas stuck with Dolby.

Dolby Labs court action aimed to prevent Thomas using the Dolby name. Presumably the Labs were spurred into action when Thomas started making soundtrack music and getting credits at the end of films, near to Dolby Labs' own credit for cinema sound encoding. The case was settled earlier this year, after many, many dollars, with Thomas agreeing to use the name only as 'Thomas Dolby', not 'Dolby' alone (as in the defunct Dolby's Cube project). What a silly business.

It's interesting to note that most professional tape duplication houses whose work we receive (for example, when record companies send us pre-release copies of LPs) seem to operate a general non-Dolby policy. Perish the thought that you too should consider boycotting the use of Dolby noise reduction simply because the company once adopted such a ridiculous position concerning a fellow musician. Mind you, if your name should be Mr Noise-Reduction...

But on to more serious matters. To check on Mr Dolby's previous monicker, we checked our handy reference book, Glenn A Baker's "The Name Game" (published late last year by Pavilion in paperback for £6.95).

The longest real name in rock appears to that of balding sound-maker Eno, who's really Brian Peter George St John Le Baptiste De La Salle Eno. As happy hippies Cheech and Chong once said, they'll never fit that on the album cover.

It makes Madonna's original Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone seem brief. Ditto DJ John Peel's real 'un — John Robert Parker Ravenscroft. And talking of DJs, how come our pal Annie Nightingale doesn't use her real and rather nice first name, Avril?

Some poor parents, of course, give their horrid child a perfectly respectable name, only to see said changeling join a band and call itself something right peculiar. Examples, did you say? How about Mr and Mrs Ritchie, whose son John Simon became Sid Vicious. Or the no doubt confused Mr and Mrs Robinson, whose nice little Peter became just plain Marilyn.

We expect that Mr and Mrs Ure thought they were quite safe calling the fruit of their loins James. But what does he do? He turns Jim around laughs at the result, and calls himself Midge. Sometimes you just can't win, as the noise reduction company said to the tape hiss.


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Technically Speaking

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Guru's Gretsch Guide


Making Music - Copyright: Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

 

Making Music - Jun 1987

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