Wayne Newton Biography

Carson Wayne Newton, 3 April 1942, Roanoke, Virginia, USA. Newton began his singing career as a child and later became the most popular and highest-paid star on the Las Vegas nightclub circuit. Inspired by a visit to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Newton’s first professional singing engagement came at the age of six, when he was paid $5 for a performance. His family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona a few years later, where he learnt to play several instruments, including guitar and piano. He and his brother, Jerry, became a duo and by his early teens Wayne had landed his own television programme on station KOOL in Phoenix. At the age of 16, when the brothers were offered a five-year booking in Las Vegas, the family moved there. The Newton Brothers recorded one single for Capitol Records in 1959, ‘The Real Thing’/’I Spy’, before recording several singles for the small George Records. In 1962 they were heard by television star Jackie Gleason, who booked them on his programme in September. Wayne was clearly emerging as the star of the act, and brother Jerry dropped out in 1963. By this time he had signed a music publishing contract with Bobby Darin’s TM Music and returned to Capitol Records; Darin also oversaw the production of most of Newton’s early Capitol recordings. Singing in a Las Vegas-lounge-lizard style, with minor traces of ‘safe’ rock, Newton’s first single to chart was ‘Heart (I Hear You Beating)’, in 1963. ‘Danke Schoen’, co-written by Bert Kaempfert, followed and became a Newton trademark which he performed throughout his entire career. Newton’s first album, sharing the single’s title, was released in the autumn of 1963 and reached number 55.

One notable early single was 1965’s ‘Comin’ On Too Strong’, co-written by Gary Usher, who had written some music for the Beach Boys. The song included Bruce Johnston on backing vocals (along with arranger Terry Melcher). Newton continued to record for Capitol until 1967, when he briefly switched to MGM Records before returning to Capitol one last time in 1970. He then proceeded to Chelsea Records, for which he recorded his biggest hit, the number 4 single ‘Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast’, in 1972. He also charted twice, in 1979 and 1980, on the Aries II label. His total number of chart singles was 17, and 10 albums charted as well, but it became apparent by the 70s that Newton’s strength was in his concert performances in Las Vegas. He not only commanded higher fees for those concerts than any other performer - reportedly $1 million per month - but invested in hotels in that city, becoming wealthy in the process. Newton has also made some nominal film appearances, including 1990’s The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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