‘Fathead’ Newman to blow into townWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A cool thing will happen when David “Fathead” Newman plays at the Detroit Jazz Festival next month: He’ll stop in Toledo on the way. The saxophonist will be at Murphy’s Place, 151 Water St., Sept. 1 for shows at 9 and 11 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15 and $10.
“I feel at home every time I come to Toledo and play the club. It’s a wonderful venue,” Newman said last week from his home in Woodstock, N.Y. “I love playing with Clifford Murphy and Claude Black. It’s a great pleasure.”
In 2005, Newman, bass player Murphy, pianist Black and drummer Winard Harper recorded a live disc, “Cookin’ at Murphy’s.”
This year, Newman released “Cityscape,” which features covers of “Goldfinger,” “It Was a Very Good Year” and “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing.”
“I try to choose tunes that I know my listening audience would probably like and appreciate,” he said. “Of course, they’re some of my favorites.”
His first solo record, “Fathead: Ray Charles Presents ‘Fathead,’ ” was released in 1959. Newman is best known as the tenor soloist from 1954 to 1966 for the Ray Charles Band.
“I had an incredible experience with Ray Charles. I just loved him,” Newman said. “I’m so indebted to him. I learned so much from him, and I appreciated being in his company, being able to perform with him.”
What does he think about the 2004 movie “Ray”?
“I felt Jamie Foxx did an incredible job — I felt I was watching Ray at times,” Newman said. “There were a lot of things that weren’t accurate, especially the ‘Fathead’ character — he wasn’t like me. The director made him much more brash. I wasn’t that brash. And the director made it seem like I was the one who introduced drugs to Ray Charles, which was absolutely false. Ray Charles had been introduced to drugs years before I met him.
“I would have appreciated more of what Ray Charles brought to the table musically, but they chose to dwell on the sexual escapades and drugs. I’m told that’s what sells movies.”
The 73-year-old shared a true story about how he got that nickname from his high school band director.
“We had played this march several times, and I had memorized the parts,” he said. “The music was on my stand, but it was upside down. And my music instructor happened to walk behind me and he noticed my music was upside down. He thumped me on the head and said, ‘Fathead, you’re supposed to read the music not memorize it.’ And all my classmates started laughing. Everyone started calling me ‘Fathead.’ It’s been with me since.”
ON THE WEB: wwwdavidfatheadnewman.com