Leading up to the rally, Wonder went on a four-month tour of the US to promote the Hotter Than July
album and garner support for the proposed holiday. Bob Marley was supposed to headline the shows with Wonder but had to bow out when his cancer worsened. Gil Scott-Heron, known for the 1970 funk anthem "The The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
," stepped in as Marley's temporary replacement, only to stay for the duration of the tour. According to Wonder's producer Malcolm Cecil, it was Scott-Heron who suggested closing out the shows with "Happy Birthday" and exhorting the audience to write their congressman about Martin Luther King Day.