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Critics' Choice
ANDY "THUNDERCLAP" NEWMAN, 1942-2016
3/31/16

Thunderclap Newman defined one-hit wonder. The band, together from 1968 to ‘71, released a single album, Hollywood Dream, and charted with one single, “Something in the Air,” which went to #1 in the U.K. in 1969 and #37 in the U.S. The altercockers in the HITS office worship that record.

The jazz pianist who lent his name to the band, Andy “Thunderclap” Newman,  died 3/30 at the age of 73. Pete Townshend, who announced the news online, saw Newman perform traditional jazz at art college and, with manager Kit Lambert, assembled Thunderclap Newman to showcase the talent of multi-instrumentalist/singer Speedy Keen, Townshend’s friend and chauffeur. The Who had recorded Keen’s “Armenia City in the Sky,” the only song ever written for Townshend & Co. by an outside writer. Pete played bass for the group; future Wings member Jimmy McCulloch was the drummer.

 

“Something in the Air” was featured in the films The Magic Christian and The Strawberry Statement soon after it was a hit; decades later it was used in Almost Famous and Kingpin.

The band, which grew into a quintet for touring, called it quits in 1971 days prior to a scheduled U.S. tour of the U.S. opening for The Who. Newman restarted a new version of the band in 2007 that played its final performance at 2012 Isle of Wight festival.