David "Fathead" Newman
|David "Fathead" Newman|
David "Fathead" Newman appearing Live at the Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver.
|Birth name||David Newman, Jr.|
February 24, 1933|
|Died||January 20, 2009
Kingston, New York
|Associated acts||Ray Charles, Herbie Mann, Stanley Turrentine|
While there are reports of Newman offering more than one origin of his nickname "Fathead", the commonly accepted explanation is that the nickname originated from his high school music class. Mr. Miller, his then music teacher, saw his music upside down on the stand, and knowing that Newman couldn't read music very well at the time, walked over and tapped him on his head with the conductor's baton and called him "Fathead." The entire classroom laughed and Newman, having good humor, did not find it derogatory. The name stuck with him, but he said he preferred to be called "David."
He moved to Dallas where he graduated from Lincoln High School. After high school, he started playing flute and tenor saxophone at local shows. He attended Jarvis Christian College where he studied theology and music. Newman stayed in college for two years and decided to move onto the road to further his music career. He played and toured with Buster Smith, Charlie Parker's mentor, playing many one-nighters with musicians such as T-Bone Walker at dance halls all over the central United States.
At one of these many gigs, he met Ray Charles, and in 1954, Newman joined Charles in his band as the baritone saxophone player (although he is more famous as a tenor saxophone and flute player) and began a twelve-year gig with Charles. He later joined Herbie Mann, with whom he played for another ten years.
Over the years up to 2008, Newman recorded over thirty-eight albums under his own name, including his first, Fathead, Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman recorded in 1958, but not released until 1960, and the second, The Sound of the Wide Open Spaces, with James Clay, produced by Cannonball Adderley, the following year.
Always a musicians' musician, Newman is best known for his hard bop style that has influenced generations of saxophone players of different genres. He also played R&B and blues, appearing on recordings with Stanley Turrentine, Aretha Franklin, B. B. King, the Average White Band, Jimmy McGriff, Eric Clapton, John Stein, Natalie Cole, Hank Crawford, Aaron Neville, Queen Latifah, Richard Tee, Dr. John, Cheryl Bentyne of The Manhattan Transfer and country/tex-mex artist Doug Sahm.
On January 22, 2008, Newman sat in as a guest with the CBS orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman.
On January 20, 2009, Newman died from complications of pancreatic cancer.
With Ray Charles
With Eddie Harris
With Lee Morgan
With Lonnie Smith
With Charles Kynard
With Cornell Dupree
With BB King
With Herbie Mann
With Arif Mardin
With Don Patterson
With Shirley Scott
With John Stein
- Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz Oxford University Press US, 2007 ISBN 0-19-532000-X, 9780195320008 at Google Books
- Atlantic Records discography at bsnpubs.com
- Riverside Records discography at jazzdisco.org
- Prestige Records discography at jazzdisco.org
- Radio station WBGO (Newark, NJ) blog entry on David Newman's death
- Cotillion Records discography at bsnpubs.com
- Warner Bros. Records discography at bsnpubs.com
- Muse Records discography at jazzdiscography.com
- Official site
- David "Fathead" Newman page at Artist Direct.
- David Newman at Tripod.
- Forrest Dylan Bryant, "David "Fathead" Newman at Pearl's" (review), All About Jazz, January 29, 2006.
- The Hard Bop Homepage
- Worcester Radio Interview with David Newman
- David Newman discography at Allmusic.com
- David "Fathead" Newman discography at Jazzlists