Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

David "Fathead" Newman Collection MSS.0375

Descriptive Summary

Creator Newman, David
Title: David "Fathead" Newman Collection
Dates: 1932-1989
Identification: MSS.0375
Quantity: 0.5 Linear feet, 1 small document box, 1 oral history tape
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

David Newman was born in Dallas, February 24, 1932. He has reported no recollection of his family being musically talented, but as an only child he was encouraged to play and listen to music. His mother, in particular, wanted him to take piano lessons. This plan was never brought to fruition because the young Mr. Newman believed he would be teased unmercilessly as a sissy. Instead, he requested and received a new saxophone.

His first instructor was the band teacher at Lincoln High School (Dallas, Texas), J. K. Miller. Mr. Newman played in the school marching band concurrent with his private instruction. While in Dallas he also played with a jazz band fronted by Buster Smith.

Following high school, Mr. Newman attended Jarvis Christian College majoring in theology. His reason given for not majoring in music was just due to the mere fact that the school did not have a formal music department. In 1951 he began performing with the Lloyd Glenn Band where he met Ray Charles. This meeting was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. By 1954 Mr. Newman was playing baritone saxophone in Ray Charles’ band. He continued until 1964 and then the band reunited again from 1970 to 1971. Mr. Newman credits this experience as providing him with the opportunity to learn arranging, an appreciation for all types of music and the means to travel the world.

In 1971 Mr. Newman began playing with Herbie Mann’s band and remained at this post for seven years before heading his own group. He recorded 25 works from 1959 to 1989; three of them while employed with Ray Charles. He has worked with performers such as Lee Morgan, B. B. King, T-Bone Walker, Lou Rawls and Jewel Brown. His television appearances include reuniting with the Ray Charles Band to guest on Saturday Night Live, then later with his own band on the David Sanborn Show and with Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald for a PBS documentary.

Mr. Newman’s business sense has given him a substantial amount of control over his music. After the creation of his own publishing company, he now owns 100% of the copyrights for his later works.

Scope and Contents

The material in the David “Fathead” Newman Collection chronicles Mr. Newman’s musical career from his childhood to 1989. The collection consists of an oral history interview fully transcribed to 42 pages, a cassette recording of Mr. Newman’s music and newspaper reviews of performances.


The oral history tape (OH 463) is housed with the Oral History Collection separate from MSS 375 [the] David “Fathead” Newman Collection
  • Series 1: Oral History Interview
  • Series 2: Promotional Materials


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the David “Fathead” Newman Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Index Terms

Basie, Count, 1904-1984
Brown, Jewel
Charles, Ray, 1930-2004
Crawford, Hank, 1934-
Fitzgerald, Ella
Glenn, Lloyd
Jarvis Christian College (Hawkins, Tex.)
King, B. B.
Lincoln High School (Dallas, Tex.)
Mann, Herbie, 1930-2003
Miller, J. K.
Morgan, Lee
Newman, David
Rawls, Lou
Smith, Buster, 1904-1991
Walker, T-Bone, 1910-1975
African Americans
Jazz musicians--Texas--Houston
Performance artists--Texas--Houston

Related Archival Materials note

The David “Fathead” Newman Collection is part of a larger record group; the Houston Jazz Collection. The oral history interview cassette (OH 463) is housed in the Oral History Collection separate from MSS 375 [the] David “Fathead” Newman Collection.

MSS 345 Jimmy Ford Collection

MSS 322 Arnett Cobb Collection

MSS 252 Milton Larkin Collection

MSS 403 Illinois Jacquet Collection

MSS 337 Jewel Brown Collection

MSS 442 Herb Brochstein Collection

MSS 441 Nathaniel "Bill" Barnes Collection

MSS 349 I.H. Smalley Collection

MSS 390 Campbell Tolbert Collection

MSS 336 Florence "Bu" Pleasant Collection

MSS 397 Art Foxall Collection

MSS 388 Ed Gerlach Collection

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

David "Fathead" Newman Collection. Collection Number MSS 375. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Mr. David Newman, August 26, 1989.

Processing Information

Processing by: Charles Stephenson and Tammy Jordan July 27, 2007. Biographical note contributed by Tammy Jordan.

Digitized Materials

A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the Houston Area Digital Archives. Please view the oral history interview with David Newman at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/Interviews/id/83/rec/1

Detailed Description of the Collection

Oral History Interview

Box Folder
1 1 Personal interview transcript, August 26, 1989
2 Personal interview transcript (duplicate), August 26, 1989

Promotional Materials

Box Folder
1 3 Press kit and reviews, 1987 to 1989
4 Review, August 25, 1989
Flyer, 1991
5 David Newman recordings listing