Thunderclap Newman

Thunderclap Newman was a post-psychedelic era British group that had one big number one song in Great Britain which just did make the top forty in the USA.

John "Speedy" Keen worked for a time as a roadie with the British superband the Who, and had become a somewhat prolific songwriter, vocalist and drummer. Andy "Thunderclap" Newman was an engineer at the British post office, and an art student who had met the Who's Pete Townshend at art shool. In addition Newman played a variety of musical instruments, especially keyboards, and particularly ragtime piano. Keen had written a song titled Armenia City In The Sky and tried to talk the Who into recording it; his efforts were successful and the song appeared on the Who's Sell Out album in 1967. Townshend put Keen and Newman together, added 16-year-old guitar prodigy Jimmy McCulloch, and jumped in to play bass himself (using the pseudonym Bijou Drains). The result, with sometimes very creative vocals by drummer Keen, added up to a very good late 60's rock band.

The group's first effort resulted in a single written by Keen originally titled Revolution, but that title was changed when it was learned that the Beatles were coming out with a song by the same name. It was renamed Something In The Air and recorded by the new group Thunderclap Newman on the Track Records label. In short order it became something of a phenomenon in Great Britain, rising to number one there as it appeared in the film The Magic Christian. It seemed to fit the times, but reached only #37 in the USA in the fall of 1969. Thunderclap Newman appeared on television even though the group was somewhat lacking in visual appeal. They went on tour briefly, bringing in Jim Pitman-Avory on bass and McCulloch's older brother Jack to play drums, so that vocalist Keen could move up front. The group's next single Accidents just missed the top forty. Then Townshend produced the album Hollywood Dream, which proved to be the band's sole album and one that collectors have sought and found difficult to find for many years. Thunderclap Newman fared no better as a live act than it had on television, and a short time later it simply faded away following its brief run. Over the years Something In The Air has appeared in a number of movies and television programs.

Andy Newman worked as a solo act on the Track label into 1971, recording Rainbow with a variety of unusual musical instruments. Keen recorded Previous Convictions on the same label the same year, and came back in the mid-70's with his album Y'Know Wot I Mean on the Island label. Jimmy McCulloch developed a solid reputation as a fine rock guitarist and played with a number of prominent bands such as Stone the Crows and John Mayall. He also did a stint with Wings from 1975 to 1977, then died two years later at age 26. Keen would later suffer from arthritits, and he passed away suddenly in 2002, at the age of 56.

Thunderclap Newman didn't last very long in the late 60's/early 70's, but they comprised a good group and left one very memorable song, Something in The Air.

Most Recent Update: November 1, 2009

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