There are many memorable passages in Gil Scott-Heron’s memoir The Last Holiday. I’m still thinking about one when he was touring with Stevie Wonder to rally and educate the public about creating Martin Luther King Jr. day, and then John Lennon was shot. He talks about how shocked they were and how Stevie Wonder spoke to that night’s audience of 17,000, “I was standing at the back of the stage outside the cylinder of light that surrounded Stevie, next to Carlos Santana and Rodney Franklin, who were joining us for the closing tunes. Stevie had more to say than just the mere announcement that John Lennon had been shot and killed. For the next 5 minutes he spoke spontaneously about his friendship with John Lennon: how they’d met, when and where, what they had enjoyed together, and what kind of man he felt Lennon was.”
And the next day he read in the papers a review panning them both as elitist and self centred for not taking about Lennon’s death. It doesn’t take him long to figure the journalist needed to get their review in by 11pm and Stevie Wonder didn’t say his words about John Lennon until 11:30, “The implication of this was racist in nature. It implied that because I was Black and Stevie was Black and John Lennon was white and therefore not a “soul brother”, that there had been no mention from the stage about the murder. What that meant was that seventeen thousand people knew what happened, but three hundred thousand read in the paper the next morning that both Stevie and I were far less than we ever intended to be”.