The Last HolidayBy Gil Scott-Heron
In the autumn of 1980, Stevie Wonder invited Gil Scott-Heron and his band to join him on a forty-one-city tour across America. The purpose of the tour, which included a major rally in Washington on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, was to galvanise popular support for the creation of a national holiday in honour of the great civil rights leader. The Last Holiday is Scott-Heron's fascinating account of what took place and how he came to be there. Raised by his grandmother in Tennessee, Scott-Heron's journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most uncompromising and influential songwriters of his generation is a remarkable one. Politically savvy and socially conscious, savagely satirical yet deeply compassionate, he is regularly cited as the godfather of rap, and his unexpected death in May 2011 marked the loss of one of the world's most eloquent musicians. In the words of Sarah Silverman, 'he mirrored ugliness with beauty, audacity and valour'. Chuck D of Public Enemy remarked, 'we do what we do and how we do because of you', and Eminem felt that 'he influenced all of hip-hop'. A heartfelt and beautifully written memoir, The Last Holiday is full of bright insights into the music industry, New York, the civil-rights movement, modern America, governmental hypocrisy, Stevie Wonder and our wider place in the world. It is also a fitting testament to the generous brilliance of Gil Scott-Heron and to the Spirits that have guided him.