M1-10 Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman

M1-10 Andy the Dentist


First of all, big thanks to blog reader and old friend Ron Eve for spilling the beans on who the next Miniatures blog artist was going to be. And that after I had tried to obfuscate the issue by inserting a link to another Newman (Barnett, the US painter – other targets that were considered were Paul Newman and Alfred E. Neuman). You may now be getting used to the fact that some of the links I include in my posts lead to surprises, quirky angles on the subject, etc. I feel that it would be far too conventional to have links going to people’s official websites, Wikipedia entries, etc. Those are so easy to access, I leave them up to the reader to search for them.

Now of course the good news is that Andy “Thunderclap” Newman is back in action again, treading the boards with a new version of his eponymous band and tickling the ivories after a long break from The Biz. I found out about this via a Facebook connection to his current manager and veteran rock shaker-and-mover, Ian Grant. And for those few who do not know who Thunderclap Newman – the man or the band – are – here is a completely conventional link to a video of their magnificent world-shattering 1969 #1 hit “Something In The Air.” And another link to a surreal promo film they made at the time. And their Wikipedia entry, very detailed and interesting.

Astonishingly, there is no existing video of their Top of the Pops appearances (“Something in The Air” stayed at #1 for 3 weeks, holding off The Beatles and Elvis). Why? Because the BBC have erased the tapes. Big round of applause for the BBC – well done, chaps!

So let’s enjoy instead, this video of the new Thunderclap Newman performing live at a recent concert. The members include Mark Brzezicki from Big Country on drums, and Josh Townshend, nephew of Pete, on rhythm guitar and vocals.

The world’s biggest saxophone (see photo caption above) was, thankfully, left at home on the several occasions when Andy visited my tiny studio bedsit to record his miniature. He did however manage to lug a baritone sax up the four flights of narrow stairs, and each time I opened the door to a wheezing Andy, his miniature Yorkshire terrier ran between my legs and at lightning speed sniffed every nook and cranny in the place. My piano, fortunately, had not been tuned in months, so it sounded suitably out of tune. Ideal for the music hall song Andy chose to record. As an intro he told one of the worst jokes ever recorded, to which unfortunately I was a party. Sorry about that, I should have cracked my producer’s whip a little harder. But it is quintessential Andy. And as another behatted moustachio’d eccentric who played keyboards alongside a team of raunchy down-to-earth rockers, I know sometimes one feels a little isolated and a misfit, and consoles oneself with weird humour. OK all together: “Aaahhh…”

I’d like to dedicate this blog post to the two members of the original Thunderclap Newman who are sadly no longer with us, John “Speedy” Keen (who wrote and sang “Something In The Air”) and Jimmy McCulloch. Jimmy was a wit and a wag as well as a prodigious precocious talent, and I’m sure Paul McCartney loved having him play in Wings. As for Speedy, I have fond memories of seeing him actually standing on a soapbox with a loudacoustic guitar and busking his heart out to the queues outside various big gigs, a Woody Guthrie-like icon pleading for solidarity in early 70’s London. Rock In Peace.

Finally, back to Andy – here seen in a rare video where he sings while being very pleasantly distracted from his performance, a moment I am sure still lingers vividly in his rainbow-coloured surreal memory cells.

POSTSCRIPT: Sadly, and all too soon, Andy Newman left us suddenly, aged 73, on March 30th, 2016. Cause of passing not yet known. RIP.

Next up: a German musical monument gets severely shrunk…

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