In 1984 I never thought I'd have another hit record again. I was very disillusioned with songwriting as I felt the individuality slip more and more out my music in order to write more homogenized songs that would get cut. I was also broke due to some stupid business decisions and even stupider business people handling them. My publisher hooked me up with Danny Sembello the younger brother of Michael Sembello who had just had a hit with "Maniac". I was reluctant to write with him as he had no track record and I didn't need one more song that sat in the can. So when he came over I did everything I could to write a song as fast as possible and be done with it. Joel Silver was producing a movie called "Streets Of Fire" and was looking for a song that an older 1950's black group sang as they rode out of town on a bus with the only other survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Danny, a phenomenal keyboard player, started playing a retro 50's sounding piano riff and I just started singing whatever came to mind. The song is very autobiographical, down to me looking out of the window of my studio while we were writing and seeing someone trying to break into my 1963 pink Corvair parked in front of the house which led to the line "Someone stole my brand new Chevrolet". We finished the whole song except for the chorus lyrics in than 45 minutes and Danny was gone. It was the first demo I engineered myself in my studio. I got so flustered we actually mastered the demo, sung by Arnold McCuller, on cassette. Danny Sembello ended up being one of my most favorite collaborators of all time and I credited him, along with Maurice White and Lamont Dozier, for teaching me almost everything I know about writing a groove.
Soon after we wrote the song I got a package from Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson's office with a tape and leadsheet of "Neutron Dance" in it. They sent the same package to a zillion other songwriters saying that this was the temp music used in the opening scene of their upcoming movie. "Beverly Hills Cop", where Eddie Murphy is hiding in the back of an out of control truck carrying bootleg cigarettes, and they were looking for an original song to replace it with. That translated into rip off "Neutron Dance", an all too common practice in songwriting when someone doesn't want to pay a licensing fee. I called Danny Sembello and we decided that if anyone was going to rip us off it would be us. So we made tiny changes in the drum track and chords and wrote another lyric patterned exactly after "Neutron Dance". The song was "Stir It Up". The first line in "Neutron" is 'I don't want to take it anymore' versus the first line in "Stir". 'I can't sit here while I go nowhere'. "Neutron": 'There's no money falling from the sky' versus "Stir": 'Bill collector's waiting down the hall'. And so on. We heard nothing for months and assumed both songs were dead. But three weeks before the film opened we found out that not only had “Neutron Dance” remained in the film but “Stir It Up” made it as well. Jerry Bruckheimer only heard it because he pulled a cassette out of the trash and listened to it to make sure he could tape over it. Once he heard it he insisted both Songs should be in the film. I was excited but I thought the title Beverly Hills Cop was dumb and so thought the movie wasn't going to make any noise that I went to the premiere on a blind date. Only when I bumped into Terri Garr on the way in and she congratulated me on the what was sure be a huge hit did I realize it was a big deal. When Eddie Murphy came on the screen I burst into tears. He was wearing a Mumford High tee-shirt, the high school I went to in Detroit. And when I finally saw the song placed in the movie it was as if it had been scored specifically for it. On the line "Someone stole my brand new Chevrolet" the cigarette truck Murphy is riding in slams into a Chevy and on the hook, "I'm just burnin' doin' the Neutron Dance" the truck jackknifes into a car that bursts into a fireball. If ever I felt I was guided by an angel it was "Neutron Dance", which went on to earn me a Grammy as we as being named "one of the most dangerous subversives living" in the United States" by the Russian newspaper. Pravda. It also became the first motorized piece of art I made, which changed the course of my career.