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Texas Jazzman David “Fathead” Newman Dies


by Jerome Weeks 21 Jan 2009

The famed saxophonist, a native of Corsicana, Texas, a former sideman for Ray Charles, died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 75. UPDATE from Anne Bothwell: Just spoke with Joanna St. Angelo, executive director of the Sammons Center, and Sammons Jazz Artistic Director James Gilyard. Newman performed often at Sammons events. “We were priviliged to […]

CTA TBD

The famed saxophonist, a native of Corsicana, Texas, a former sideman for Ray Charles, died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.

UPDATE from Anne Bothwell: Just spoke with Joanna St. Angelo, executive director of the Sammons Center, and Sammons Jazz Artistic Director James Gilyard. Newman performed often at Sammons events.

“We were priviliged to have his great talent on several occasions, and we will miss him terribly,” says St. Angelo. He was a giant in the Texas Tenor pantheon.”

Gilyard says he knew Newman had been ill and had to cancel several upcoming performances. Newman had been scheduled to perform at A Tribute to Texas Tenors Jan. 30 and 31. James “Red” Holloway stepped in when it was clear Newman wouldn’t be able to attend.

“Probably for me, his contribution was his sound,” says Gilyard, who often performed with Newman. “He had a very approachable sound. Just regular folks liked what he did. Yet it was quality music.”

UPDATE from Betsy Lewis: I just talked to Wendell Sneed, friend and fellow musician: “As we describe Texas Tenors, with that big ballsy sound – he doesn’t even need a microphone. That’s David Fathead Newman. He’s always soulful.”

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  • And only a week ago, Leroy Cooper, another horn player from Ray Charles’ band, died here in Dallas.