Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman
by on April 9, 2016 in 2016 Uncategorized

My friend Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman passed away suddenly, last week.

For days, I could not comprehend it, for he was such a fixture in my life. He has left a gaping hole not just in my life but also in the lives of his many friends and relatives.

I have known Andy for over 30 years and he truly was “a gentleman and a scholar”.

He was gentleman, because he behaved like one, he was always measured and polite. In all the years that I have known him and worked with him, I have never once seen him angry, never heard him shout. He was also a most generous person who would give up his time to help someone in need, something I have witnessed on many occasions. He certainly helped me out and gave me support when I needed it.

He was a scholar because I have never met anyone with such a wide general knowledge. Long before the arrival of the Internet/www, I could ask him about any given topic and he’d be telling me about it at great length. He was a born storyteller, a raconteur, and every time I met him, he had an anecdote up his sleeve, some hilarious, others interesting. How I first met Andy is an anecdote in itself, which I will recount later.

Having met him and realised that he was the keyboard player in Thunderclap Newman, I always hoped that I could work with him one day.

It took many years of persuading and a lot of Hungarian goulash at my place – for Andy appreciated good food – before he finally relented and agreed to give the Thunderclap Newman Band a try. He was wary and cautious of the music business but once he realised that the musicians around him were genuine, he was completely behind the project. Andy had a lovely, soothing speaking voice and, in my opinion, he also had a great singing voice but my impression was that he didn’t like to sing in public, which was a shame.

Unfortunately, the Thunderclap Newman Band project didn’t work out but each of the band members, of that I am sure, know how lucky they were to have been given the chance to work with such a consummate musician. We all learnt a great deal from him. He never lectured us, he merely pointed out how a certain passage should be played, a certain phrase ought to be sung and all the while he was patient with us.

I am sad that things didn’t work out with the band that he joined after he left the Thunderclap Newman Band. Only one member of our band at that time was a pro musician and Andy hoped that the new band consisting of professionals would bring him well-deserved success but it was not to be.

Just before he passed away, Andy and I were working on one of my songs with the aim to record it in the studio in a couple of months.

Rest in Peace, Andy!

P.S. If you have any stories or anecdotes regarding Andy which you would be happy to share, please send them to me and I can post them on my blog.


Celebrating Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman’s 67th birthday with friend Ted (on the left) at my house. I made Andy a cake and we had some Tokaj wine.

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3 Responses to Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman

  1. Iain McDougall on

    Back in 1986, I was managing a band called Cuddly Toys, and we had recently hooked-up with Angie Bowie who had heard of them due to their indie chart hit of the unreleased Bowie/Bolan composition ‘Madman.’

    One Sunday morning, after a particularly riotous party, Angie suggested that we clear our heads with a liesurely stroll.
    She was living in Clapham at the time, and we ventured out and took the poluted air.
    As we passed Battersea Power Station, I was vaguely aware of a large, and slightly dishevelled-looking character in a green cap and long coat walking towards us. I was more startled when Angie suddenly yelled in her best broad American accident; “Hey, Thunder!!”
    He stopped, pleased to see her, and they chatted for a while. He said that he had just finished his shift on the railway. He walked with us for a while and then left us to make his way home.
    As we walked back to her flat, I asked Angie why she had called the man Thunder. She looked at me quite incredulously and said; “Because he’s Thunderclap Newman!”

    Over the next couple of years I met him many times at Angie’s and had many happy conversations with him. He was the most fascinating man to listen to. He had a vast intellect and incredible general knowledge which he never used to impress, but merely to entertain.
    Andy was usually accompanied by a very small grey dog, somewhat reminiscent of a large woodlouse, whom he doted upon.
    I remember with huge fondness one occasion when Thunder attended one of our concerts at a venue called ‘The Flag’ in Wembley. After busying myself backstage, I came round to the bar to find Andy seated at a table, surrounded by a large group of people who were obviously completely transfixed by some annecdote that he was sharing with them. Intrigued. I sat down to listen-in. He was talking to them on the intricasies of income tax!

    That man remains to this day, one of my favourite ever people.

    • Hello Iain,

      Sorry for the late reply, I have been very busy in the recording studio. Thank you for your very interesting and entertaining article.
      I was, however, not aware that Andy ever worked on the railways. After he left Thunderclap Newman, he trained as an electrician and I think
      that he met Angie Bowie whilst re-wiring her house/flat – I could be wrong and you might know more than me, as to how he met Angie.

      I have finished my EP ‘Love’ (to be released later this year, in October) and on the 1st track “Root Tonite” he is playing the piano. It’s a song I wrote in the late 90s and in 1999 Andy came round to my flat in London and we recorded the piano part to which I added guitars, drums, bass etc.
      Very sorry that he is not around to hear it. You are spot on when you say he had a vast knowledge – he was Wikipedia before it was invented!

      With your permission, I will post your article on my website’s blog, especially since we’re coming up to the 4th anniversary of his death.


    • Hi Iain, sorry it took so long for me to reply but for the last 2 years I was bogged down with making my album which came out about 8 weeks ago.
      Thank you for sending in and sharing your story with me/us, it’s much appreciated. I say ‘us’ because if you agree I’d like to share your story with all the Thunderclap Newman fans.
      By the way, an American writer is about to finish a book on Thunderclap Newman, I think it will be published in 2024. I’ll keep you in the loop, if you are interested! Thanks again and
      if you have more stories just drop me a line. By the way, I looked at the Cuddly Toys Facebook page. Looks interesting.Are you still involved in the music business? Best regards, István

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