Anthony F@cking Newley
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
This is one of my favourite photographs. Terry's too. It was taken in Dunblane after Terry and I, and his son Joseph had visited Terry's mother.
Joseph and Terry had an incredible bond. They were aligned in all the important ways - not least musically. He was a sweet soul, too. A deep thinker, a devastating guitar player, a writer of affecting, abstract lyrics and a careful listener who talked about Miles Davis, Shuggie Otis, Nile Rodgers, Roy Orbison, Paul Weller and John Lennon - always John Lennon - as if he had weighed every note they sang and played, catalogued its value, and locked it in his heart for safe-keeping. He played Jobim's Dindi like an angel.
Once, when he was staying with us, I was in the kitchen making dinner while Terry and Joseph were scrolling through the TV in the other room. They stumbled upon Britain's Got Talent, or The X Factor, or some similar parade of the unfortunates. Terry turned up the volume, for comical effect, just as a young woman launched into a flight of off-key melisma. He knew it would bring me out of the kitchen, open mouthed, whisk in hand.
Just as I was saying: "Why are you two watching this abomination? the camera panned across the audience to find Joan Collins taking a seat. I was incensed. Joan Collins? What is Joan Collins doing at this tripe-fest?
Joseph said: "Why, what's special about Joan Collins?"
I said: "She was married to Anthony F@cking Newley. She should have two good ears."
Joseph's far-reaching musical tastes hadn't yet found Newley, so the three of us spent the next few hours on Youtube with him. Dinner got cold.
It isn't easy to explain to a 22-year-old, even one as knowledgeable as Joseph was, about that odd, lovely, short chapter of history, when The Beatles and The Stones, bossa nova acts and Matt Monro all shared stages, TV and radio slots, and admiration for each other. Those adorable photographs of John Lennon and Lionel Bart, or Lennon and Alma Cogan partying together, illustrate the 1960s as much as any photo of Twiggy in a miniskirt and in a Mini Cooper. It is inevitable that the story of the 1960s that is told now, decades later, is dominated by pure rock & roll. And a writer such as Newley was hardly going to fade into obscurity, no matter what tidal wave of popular culture came for him.
The boy did alright.
Joseph was fanatical about David Bowie. So, as soon as Newley opened his mouth on those Youtube clips, he felt he already knew him anyway.