R.I.P. Thunderclap Newman: An Appreciation

Andy “Thunderclap” Newman died on March 30, aged 73. When I mentioned this to my colleagues at work, there was a universal “Who?”. Not what a musician would want, but Newman would probably have been delighted when, after I played his band’s only famous song “Something In The Air”, everyone knew it.

It was one of those songs from my youth that I have barely listened to in recent years but which I am always delighted to hear. I have vague recollections of seeing Newman hammering it out quite hard on the piano on “Top Of The Pops” or some such show from my youth. It was a 1969 British No 1 hit.

I also recall that Newman was a GPO (General Post Office) telephone engineer.

What I was not aware of, but have since found out, is that Newman was brought in to play the piano in the band that took the Thunderclap Newman name by The Who’s Pete Townsend.

Townsend apparently wanted to create a band for his chauffeur, Speedy Keen, who was a drummer and songwriter. The Who legend played bass on the track using the alias Bijou Drains. All very rock ‘n’ roll.

The band produced other things, but as far as popularity went “Something In The Air” was pretty much it. But it was a great song.