David "Fathead" Newman: Remembering Brother Ray
The greatest showcase of Newman's Tenor Saxness was recorded in Atlanta on May 29, 1959, at Thorton Stadium, performing "The Night Time Is The Right Time." Newman's alto intorduction was so robust with blues-funk and grit, that Art Blakey when hearing it said, "The Ray Charles Band is the concrete foundation of "soul solidification." This day was an everlasting epoch in the annals of the Ray Charles Band for Newman.
In 1959 Ray presented David's intro album Ray Charles-Presenting David "Fathead" Newman, on Atlantic Records. This album introduced Newman's famous signature song, "Hard Times." Later albums included House of David, Captain Buckles and Live At the Village Gate. All of them were tremendous accomplishments for Newman and Atlantic Records.
He moved to New York after a brief stay in Dallas and as leader toured with a rhythm section that at times included Cedar Walton, Jimmy Cobb, Buster Williams, and Louis Hayes. Their travels took them throughout the East Coast, Europe and Japan.
After touring as a leader, Newman joined Herbie Mann as co-leader and together they went around the world playing. "I was with Herbie Mann for 10 years, after leaving Ray's band," Newman recalled. "I had just left Ray's band. In fact, I was still playing with Ray in 1971. He offered me money after I did a recording with him. He said, 'I'd like to have you in my band.' And I said, well, you know I'm with Mr. Charles. Herbie said, 'I'll give you double what he's paying you if you join my band.' So I told him to double what I was getting from Mr. Charles and he doubled that...that was it.. I had to go." Playing flutes together, Newman and Mann made history in 1980 performing at the first Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. A full house of 17,000 roared their appreciation for the collaborative double harmony displayed by their playing Mann's hit, "Memphis Underground."
Newman has recorded with Aretha, Natalie Cole, Hank Crawford, Aaron Neville, and most recently with Grammy nominated Dana Owens (Queen Latifah), and Cheryl Bentyne of The Manhattan Transfer.
His most recent album is called I Rember Brother Ray. The cover shows Newman and Charles seated on a couch, both flashing smiles reflecting the illumination of their 50-year friendship. This was the last time they saw each other.
Joe Adams, long time Charles MC, introduced "Fathead" at Charles' funeral with these words, "One of the mainstays with the the Ray Charles organization for many many years was a young man that we affectionately refer to as 'Fathead.' Today, he told me to be sure to preface hs name as David 'Fathead' Newman." Newman poignantly and solemnly played "Precious Lord." His tenor solo tribute to Brother Ray, his friend of 50 years, had tears of joy flowing from all who were paying their final goodbyes at First AME Church.
David "Fathead" Newman is probably more requested now than ever, after the success of Ray. Time with his wife in their upstate New York home has been economically interrupted with calls for more gigs. But Newman's not complaining, because now his son is traveling with him playing drums. Hard times for Newman have now become good times, and even though the nickname "Fathead" is more famous than Newman, once you hear his effervescent tenor-flute sounds and remember the film, you'll say, "Ah, that's David Newman."
Visit David "Fathead" Newman on the web.