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Jazz Giant David "Fathead" Newman Has Died

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Jazz legend David “Fathead" Newman transcended peacefully at a hospital near his home in upstate New York on January 20, 2009, after a long battle with cancer.

David, as he preferred to be called, attained international stardom over a long career. Born in Corsicana, Texas on February 24, 1933 and graduating from Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas, he went on to study theology and music on scholarship at Jarvis Christian College.

In 1954 he began his twelve year association with Ray Charles and was Ray’s lead tenor, band leader, and closest ‘side kick’ during those years. After leaving Ray’s band to make his own name, David performed live and recorded with many greats, including Cedar Walton, Buster Williams, Stanley Turrentine, Hank Crawford and another Texas Tenor, the late James Clay.

He appeared in Dallas a number of times over the years, collaborating with other great local artists, including the late Shirley McFatter, and his son Cadino Newman, who recently accompanied David to a special performance recently in Austin, Texas. Back in New York, David had often shared the stage with Cynthia Scott, ex-‘Raylette’, in their tributes to Ray.

His television appearances included Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and many others. David’s most recent recording endeavors were his CD’s “Diamondhead”, “Life”, “Mr. Gentle, Mr. Cool”, a tribute to Duke Ellington, and “I Remember Ray” which was the “#1 Most Played Jazz Album” in the country. David Newman’s music bridged many styles with uncanny ability.

His music embraced living with his deep sense of spirituality and unfettered positivity. He leaves behind his Wife-- Karen Newman, Aunt Freda Mae Jefferson, Uncle Curtis Cavanaugh, his children--Andre Newman I, Cadino Newman, Terry Walker, and Benji Newman as well as his eight beautiful grandchildren.

Photo Credit
Ben Johnson

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