b. 12 November 1899, Santa Anna, Texas, USA, d. 23 February 1981, Dallas, Texas, USA. Nothing is known now of Newman’s childhood or of his teenage years but he grew up to become one of the pioneers of western swing music. By his mid-twenties, he played piano, piano accordion and guitar and worked as a staff musician at WRR Dallas. In 1926, apart from his studio duties, he began to play piano as one half of the Mystery Duo, with John Thorvald (guitar). In 1931, he played guitar as part of a quartet known as the Wanderers, where he became associated with guitarist Jim Boyd. The group moved to WFAA in 1932, but Newman and Boyd with different musicians returned to WRR, as Roy Newman And His Boys, the following year. Also at WRR at that time was Bill Boyd, who played and recorded with musicians known as the Cowboy Ramblers. In reality, some of the musicians who played and recorded with Newman also played on Boyd’s recordings, but each band managed an individual sound and both played on WRR’s popularNoon Hour Varieties. Newman And His Boys (who sometimes numbered 10 musicians) recorded 72 sides between 1934 and 1939, and established a considerable reputation through their broadcasts and appearances in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas. Although never afforded the publicity gained by Bob Wills or Milton Brown, Newman, who probably played more jazz than his contemporaries, played his part in popularizing western swing music, before he disbanded in 1940. Important group members over the years were fiddlers Art Davis and Thurman Neal and Holly Horton (clarinet). Newman continued to work as a staff musician at WRR and/or WFAA until his retirement. He died at his home in 1981, the same year that an album of his early work was released. Recordings have also appeared on Rambler compilation albums.
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