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Fathead's Revenge

Sax player claims that Ray got him wrong.

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Veteran sax player David "Fathead" Newman is best known as a character in the 2004 biopic Ray, but he still loves touring. He stops at Nighttown tonight for a pair of shows spotlighting his latest album, Cityscape. Keyboardist Tony Monaco will be on hand to assist Newman on songs from last year's I Remember Brother Ray, a musical nod to Charles. "I wanted Ray to play on it, and he said he would," says Newman. "But by the time we were ready to start thinking about it, he passed. We went back to the drawing back and made the whole project a tribute to him."

Newman first picked up the sax in seventh grade in his native Texas. He acquired his nickname in high school, when his marching-band director called him a fathead after catching Newman playing with his sheet music turned upside down. The moniker stuck as Newman started gigging with R&B combos, including Charles'. The meeting was documented in Ray, but Newman is still "annoyed and upset" at director Taylor Hackford's "messing with history." "In one scene, he had my character introducing drugs to Ray, which was totally untrue," he says. "Ray had been introduced to drugs long before I met him. The Fathead character was inaccurate and nothing like me."

Newman also sighs at the flick's depiction of wild sex in the '50s. "Hackford's reasoning was that drugs and sexual escapades sell movies," he says. "But what Ray brought to the table musically outweighed all of that."
Sun., Nov. 12, 7 & 9 p.m.

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