Saturday, March 3, 2012

One Hit Wonders # 5 - Thunderclap Newman

The latest entry into this blog's series of one hit wonders comes to us from the band Thunderclap Newman, a group organized and produced by The Who's Pete Townshend to showcase the singing and songwriting abilities of one Thomas "Speedy" Keene, at the time The Who's chauffeur and composer of the song "Armenia In The Sky" , which appeared on the Who Sell Out  album.   The recording featured Keene on drums,guitar and lead vocals, Andy "Thunderclap" Newman ,an engineer and college buddy of Townshend's, and 15-year-old prodigy Jimmy McCullough on lead guitar. Townshend himself played bass guitar on the recording credited as "Bijou Drains". The band's line-up was augmented for touring by bassist James Pitman-Avery and drummer Jack  McCullough (no relation) in 1969 and by bassist Ronnie Peel and drummer Roger Felice in 1971. The band folded in April of 1971 and was resurected for a short time in 2007. As with many one-hit wonders, the song is quite an achievement. A sweeping, majestic mid-tempo anthem driven by Keene's rhythm guitar and falsetto vocals and the surprising highlight of Newman's delightfully eccentric piano solo. Wunderkind Jimmy McCullough's lead guitar licks are perfectly placed and executed. The young guitarist would go on to grace the line-ups of John Mayall's Blues Breakers, Stone The Crows and Paul McCartney's Wings before tragically succumbing to a heroin-induced fatal heart attack September 27, 1979 at the all-too-early age of 26 .                  

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