Andy Newman was a member of the classic short-lived and inspired musical accident that was Thunderclap Newman. They were produced by Pete Townshend, released on Track records and responsible for one of the great songs of the sixties, Something In The Air, written by drummer, singer/songwriter and Pete Townshend’s chauffeur, Speedy Keen. The song was banned by the BBC because it was allegedly used as a rallying call for the IRA but that didn’t stop it hitting the No.1 spot on British charts in 1969. A year later an album, Hollywood Dream followed but they were unable to follow up their hit song and they broke up.
In January 2015 I wrote piece about the band, the link is below so I won’t tell the the story again but I’ve included some You Tube links of covers of their classic song. Labelle covered the song on their 1971 album, Pressure Cookin’ incorporating Gil Scott-Heron’s, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Tom Petty recorded the song for the Greatest Hits album that went 12 x platinum in the US, but nothing can touch the original with its mix of unlikely characters, Andy Newman, Speedy Keen, Jimmy McCulloch and Pete Townshend, making Townshend (on bass) the only living member of the original band.
Although Newman was primarily known as a piano player he also played a variety of wind instruments but perhaps we should lovingly remember him as he was once hilariously described “the GPO engineer that played the Dixieland piano”. I’m sure he would have had a chuckle over that rather lacking description of his musical talent.
Rest in peace, Andy Newman. Condolences to friends and family