David "Fathead" Newman Passes At Age 75
David "Fathead" Newman (born February 24, 1933), jazz musician tenor sax soloist who played with the Ray Charles Band for about 12 years (beginning in 1954) has passed away at age 75. He started out with Ray Charles as his baritone sax player and eventually was featured as the star tenorist with the band. Newman played and recorded with a wide range of jazz and soul luminaries. In addition he had a successful solo career. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990 for his work with Art Blakey and Dr. John. His wife, Manager Karen Newman, says the jazz musician died Tuesday January 20th of pancreatic cancer in a Kingston, New York hospital. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform many times and actually got a chance to meet him after a Ray Charles Tribute Show that he did in Chicago a couple of years ago with several other former members of the various Ray Charles Bands. According to music history lore, David got the nickname of "Fathead" in high school music class. His music teacher, Mr. Miller supposedly saw David's sheet 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 nickname stuck. You can sign the Legacy.com memorial book by clicking here.
Here David plays on Alto sax: