GARY BYRD and the G.B.EXPERIENCE "THE CROWN"
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
The 12 inch version of "The Crown" is notable for being one of the longest 12 inch singles to chart in the UK, lasting for a whopping 10 minutes and 35 seconds. The track was penned by Gary Byrd and Stevie Wonder and was released on the Motown label in the UK, reaching No.6.
However, the rap song was released on Stevie Wonder's own label Wondirection in the U.S., which was part of Motown. The single only reached #69 on the Billboard Hot 100, and this may well have been because of poor promotion by Wonder's label.
"The Crown" took three years to complete. It is widely regarded as a track that helped remove the novelty factor from rap, and showed that it can be used to spread a serious message.
Gary Byrd started out as DJ at a radio station in his home town of Buffalo, New York. He then moved to a New York City radio station, and experimented with reading poetry over music, which led to him releasing a number of rap records. While working there, Stevie Wonder sent him a cassette and asked him to write the lyrics for his songs.
Byrd was a Radio 1 DJ in the UK during the early to mid 1980s, and presented Sweet Inspiration on Sunday evenings at 11pm playing gospel music. An LP was released during 1984 featuring a compilation of selections from his radio show.