"King Biscuit Boy" RIP

Referred by: gary17@to-nite.net - Posted January 6, 2003

This from another website from Johnny V, about the sad passing of "King Biscuit Boy", Richard Newell, on Sunday, January 5:
           I just pulled in off the road today and received some very sad news. Richard Newell (AKA King Biscuit Boy) has passed away at his home in Hamilton. I talked with his Dad and brother and was informed arrangements for the service are on hold until Richard senior's health improves. I will post more when I know what they are. In the menatime I suggest every city across Canada hold a wake for one of the Canadian blues camp's godfathers, The mighty Richard Newell.
           For those who did not know the genius of the man, here is a little background: Born March 8th, 1944, Richard Newell grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada listening to the blues being broadcast out of Upper New York State on American radio programmes. He began playing harmonica in his teens , and between 1961 and 1965 worked with the blues/rock band The Barons. They made one record in 1961 called Bottleneck. In the early 1960s, The Barons changed their name to Son Richard And The Chessmen. He also travelled and performed through Europe and the UK during this time period. By 1966 Richard had left the Chessmen for the Midknights. Two years later he joined Ronnie Hawkins, who nicknamed him King Biscuit Boy because of Richard's uncanny ability to play like Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Millar) who hosted the famed King Biscuit Flour Hour radio show at KFFA in Helena, Arkansas.
           Hawkins fired his whole band including Richard in late 1969 claiming "they could fuck up a crowbar". In 1970 Daffodil Record's main man Frank Davies gave Richard Newell his first break and recorded Richard's first solo album with the old Hawkins band (named oddly enough "Crowbar") backing him up. "Official Music" was the product of those first sessions and has since been reissued by Stony Plain Records on CD in 1996.
           The second Daffodil release was titled "Gooduns" and the original album jacket was issued with a white cotton flour sack for a cover. It was a truly stellar album and it too, like "Official Music", has since been reissued on CD by Stony Plain Records in 1996. King Biscuit Boy went solo after those first two Daffodil releases and recorded a few songs but commercial success eluded him until 1974 when Epic records signed him and flew him to New Orleans where famed songwriter/record producer Alan Toussaint was hired along with The Metres to back Richard in the studio. The product of those sessions was an album simply titled "King Biscuit Boy" but later became known as "The Brown Derby Album" by his fans. That album was the finest work to date by this harmonica blowin' songwriter with the soul drenched voice from Hamilton, Ontario.
           In late 1979 Andy "Bluesboy" Grigg acting as Richard's manager started work producing a new album. In 1980 the release of "Mouth of Steel" appeared on the "Red Lightning" record label out of England. This was a high energy blues-a- billy style record that launched Richard's career back into the 1980's. This album was quickly picked up in Canada by Stony Plain Records and released in 1982. Then in 1987 Richard and Andy went back into the studio to start work on the recording "King Biscuit Boy AKA Richard Newell" The AKA album was superb, the singing, the choice of material, the harmonica playing. It was still there "The King was back in the throne". It was released on Stony Plain Records and was nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Roots and Traditional category. Dave Booth AKA Daddy Cool wrote the liner notes for this album which tells the whole story of Richard Newell complete with some very candid pictures of this young Canadian Bluesman Richard Newell.
           In 1995 Richard was back into the studio and recorded an album of all new material for Blue Wave Records out of Syracuse, NY. Produced by Greg Spencer and featured Western Canada's Blues guitar great Johnny V layin' down a solid foundation for Richard to work with. This CD, titled "Urban Blues Re: Newell" was quickly snatched up in Canada by Stony Plain Records. This is probably his best work to date and it too was nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Blues and Gospel category.
           There are also two boot-legged albums out there, one or two complete in the can sessions that were never released and a couple of best of albums. If you can find them, buy them. Richard Newell is Canada's True Blues Godfather. He has spawned so many of today's blues players in Canada. He brought the REAL BLUES to Canada in his recordings. Beware of cheap imitations and rewrites of the facts concerning the Blues Music History of Canada.

A few quotes from the gallery
           "King Biscuit Boy is the single greatest blues musician this country has produced (and probably ever will). The King's standards are considerably higher than yer average blooze hack"... Lily Sazz (Toronto Blues Society board member and associate editor of the Toronto Blues Society's Newsletter) King Biscuit Boy - Gooduns (1972) This is really Official Music Part Two (see below), kicked off by an uproarious tribute to Arthur Gunter: "You Done Tore Your Playhouse Down Again." (Blues Access Magazine)
           King Biscuit Boy With Crowbar - Official Music (1972) Hooray! One of all-time favourites is finally on CD. The outrageous Richard Newell, harp player and singer extraordinaire, is backed by one of Canada's top bands. There's not a single throwaway among these blues classics and originals that sound like they ought to be. (Blues Access Magazine)
           King Biscuit Boy "GOODUNS": Richard Newell, a.k.a. King Biscuit Boy, is a Canadian harmonica player with both feet in Arkansas. Newell is the Sonny Boy Williamson of the Great White North. If this record does not get you moving, be worried for your health. Good production and liner notes. (Onsight Reviews by Tommy Tearaway)
           KING BISCUIT BOY - "Urban Blues Re: Newell" (BW #124) - Richard Newell (aka King Biscuit Boy) is Canada's premier blues artist. Biscuit's early 70's releases with the band Crowbar are certified Bluesrockin' classics and his fine and funky 1974 Epic Records LP was produced by legendary New Orleans songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint. "After listening to this 146 times, I think it's safe to say it's the best thing Biscuit's ever done and the best ever by a Canadian artist."- A.G. West Coast Blues Review
           The other day I heard cuts from the 1995 Juno Award nominees for Blues and Gospel. Of five artists, only one stood out: King Biscuit Boy's "Urban Blues Re: Newell". As it was in 1971, so it was in 1995. 1971 - If you're under 25, you weren't born yet. No matter. Wayne Brideaux (Vox Magazine)

CFMU 93.3 FM Hamilton Top Ten Blues Recordings For The Week Ending February 8, 1997
1. King Biscuit Boy Badly Bent: Best of.. Stony Plain
2. Big Jack Johnson We Got To Stop This.. MC
3. Various Artists Texas Blueswomen Top Cat
4. Little Mack Simmons Little Mack Is Back Elektro Fi
5. Sue Foley Walk In The Sun Antones
6. Jeff Lang Native Dog Creek True North
7. Various Artists Antone's 20th Ann.. Antones
8. The Whiteley Brothers 16 Shades Of Blue Borealis
9. Alvin Youngblood Hart Big Mama's Door Sony
10.Mike Henderson First Blood Dead Reakoning
Compiled Weekly By Steve Gash

Corrina Corrina (with Crowbar) 1970
Biscuit's Boogie 1971
29 Ways/Boom Boom 1972
Barefoot Rock 1972-73
New Orleans 1975

Official Music (King Biscuit Boy & Crowbar) 1970
Gooduns 1971
Badly Bent: The Best Of King Biscuit Boy (1976)
Mouth Of Steel 1979
King Biscuit Boy A.K.A. Richard Newell 1988
Urban Blues Re: Newell 1995

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