The Speed of Sound is the remarkable story of Thomas Dolby's life at the top of the music charts, his second act as a tech pioneer, and the sustaining power of creativity and art.
Thomas Dolby rose to international fame with such hit songs as “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Hyperactive!” in the early 80’s. A pioneer of New Wave, Thomas combined a love for electronics with a passion for music, and the result was a new sound that defined an era and revolutionized music. But as record company politics overshadows the joy of making music, Thomas finds a second act in Silicon Valley, pioneering the use of MP3s in cell phones – remember the Nokia ringtone that filled the air for decades? One billion mobile phones played that ringtone, and each one was the result of Thomas’ work.
Starting out in a rat-infested London bedsit, Thomas Dolby stacks boxes by day at the grocery and tinkers with a homemade synthesizer at night while catching the Police at a local dive bar, swinging by the pub to see a then unknown Elvis Costello and begins the weekend with a Clash show at a small night club. London at the dawn of the 1980s is a hotbed for music and culture, and a new sound is beginning to take shape, merging the digital with the musical. Thomas begins to play in other bands’ shows, and with a bit of luck starts writing his own tracks, quickly establishing himself on the scene and writing the break out hit “She Blinded Me With Science”. The world is now his oyster, and sold out arenas, world tours, even a friendship with Michael Jackson are now a reality. But as disillusionment sets in, Thomas turns his attention to Hollywood, and scoring films eventually leads to a music startup in Silicon Valley that pioneers the use of music in electronics. As Thomas turns up the volume of the digital age, life on the top of a tech empire proves to be just as full of big personalities, battling egos and soaring success as his days spent at the top of the charts.