Johnny Carson gave Newsom the name Mr. Excitement to make light of his low-key personality and drab brown and blue suits -- a sharp contrast to the flashy style of bandleader Doc Severinsen.
Not long after the Carson era ended in 1992, Newsom remarked that his image as an ordinary guy was "fairly accurate -- compared to Rambo."
Along with his work on "The Tonight Show," Newsom arranged and composed music for Skitch Henderson, Woody Herman, Kenny Rogers, John Denver and other performers.
Monday, April 30, 2007
TOMMY NEWSOM, 78
Former backup bandleader on "The Tonight Show." Died April 28 in Portsmouth, Va. According to Variety:
He got his first horn when he was 8. Did four years with a U.S. Air Force jazz ensemble. Toured with Benny Goodman and played in "The Merv Griffin Show" orchestra. A good life, betcha.