David 'Fathead' Newman Remembered

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Just The Music

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Personnel

  • David "Fathead" Newman, saxophone/flute
  • Billy Taylor, piano
  • Chip Jackson, bass
  • Steve Johns, drums
Biographical information compiled with the help of Felix Contreras, NPR.
David "Fathead" Newman

David "Fathead" Newman continued to record and perform into early 2009. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

Tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman died Tuesday. His family reports that the 75-year-old musician died of pancreatic cancer near his home in Kingston, N.Y.

Newman came from a generation of post-WWII jazz musicians who were defined in part by where they grew up. One of many artists originally from Texas, he possessed a sound deeply influenced by the blues.

"Fathead" got his nickname when one of his music teachers noticed the budding saxophonist memorizing his high-school band music instead of reading the charts.

Newman made a name for himself outside of Texas during his 12 years supporting Ray Charles, starting in the mid-1950s. He did lots of work as a sideman, but also recorded under his own name, starting in 1959 and continuing until just before his death.

In this 1998 episode of Billy Taylor's Jazz, a live performance program formerly broadcast by NPR, David "Fathead" Newman joins Billy Taylor's trio at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Between songs, he fields questions from Taylor and the audience.

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