Academy Award, Grammy and Emmy Award winning singer and composer Randy Newman is widely recognized for his melodious piano songs and scores for such popular movies as "Ragtime" (1981), "¡Three Amigos!" (1986), "Parenthood" (1989), "Avalon" (1990), "The Paper" (1994), "Toy Story" (1995), "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), "Babe: Pig in the City" (1998), "You've Got Mail" (1998), "Toy Story 2" (1999), "Meet the Parents" (2000), "Monsters, Inc." (2001), "Meet the Fockers" (2004), "Cars" (2006) and "Leatherheads" (2008). He will compose songs for the upcoming films "The Princess and the Frog" and "Toy Story 3."
"My music has a high irritation factor. I've always tried to say something. Eccentric lyrics about eccentric people, often it was a joke. But I would plead guilty on the grounds that I prefer eccentricity to the bland." Randy Newman
Newman, whose work was slightly influenced by Bob Dylan, has released more than 10 albums. He was mentioned in the song "Life Is a Rock But the Radio Rolled Me" by Reunion and his song "I Love L.A" is played by the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium after every home game victory. Many popular musicians have made his songs even more famous by doing their own versions.
Randy Newman, nicknamed “The New Man,” has collected a handful of awards, including an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and the Governor's Award from the Recording Academy. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Newman has been married twice and has five children.
The New Man
Childhood and Family:
The son of Adele Newman, a secretary (died in 1988), and Irving George Newman, a Hollywood physician and occasional songwriter (died of cancer in 1990), Randall Stuart Newman was born on November 28, 1943, in Los Angeles, California. As an infant, he moved with his Jewish family to New Orleans, Louisiana, where his mother's family lived. He stayed there until he was eleven years old until his family returned to Los Angeles.
Newman, who has a brother named Alan, is the nephew of composers Alfred Newman (won nine Academy Awards; born in 1900; died in 1970), Emil Newman (born in 1910; died in 1984), and Lionel Newman (received 11 Oscar nominations and won in 1969 for Best Score of a Musical Picture; born in 1916; died in 1989). His cousins are composers Joey Newman, Thomas Newman, David Newman, and Maria Newman. His other cousins are Carroll Newman and Tim Newman, who directed the video of Newman's popular "I Love Los Angeles" and videos for ZZ Top.
After graduating from University High, in Los Angeles, Newman studied music theory and composition at the University of California but dropped out when his friend Lenny Waronker landed him a record contract with Reprise Records.
From 1967 to 1985, Newman was married to Roswitha Schmale, with whom he has three sons: Amos Newman (born in 1968), Erik Newman (born in 1970), and John Newman (born in 1978). He married Gretchen Preece in 1990 and they have two children: son Patrick Newman (born in 1992) and daughter Alice Newman (born in 1993). Newman suffered from Epstein-Barr Syndrome during 1987-1989.
Born into a musical family, Randy Newman began taking piano classes at age six and started studying music theory at age 13. He wrote his first songs at 15 and landed a $150-a-month song writer contract for Metro Music (part of Liberty) by age 17. He received his first TV credit in 1962 when he penned an untitled saxophone instrumental for an episode of CBS’ sitcom "Dobie Gillis." That same year, he recorded his first song, "They Tell Me It's Summer," a B side song sung by the Fleetwoods.
Two years later, Newman worked at the TV music library at 20th Century Fox writing music cues and themes for series produced by the studio, most notably the prime time soap opera "Peyton Place." He also contributed the song "Look at Me," which he co-wrote with Bobby Darin, to a Hollywood film called "The Lively Set" (1964), an Oscar-nominated action/drama directed by Jack Arnold and starring James Darren.
“I started recording because I was always complaining about the records that I was getting of my songs. At least if I did them and messed them up, I wouldn't have anyone else to blame.” Randy Newman
After joining Reprise Records as a recording artist in 1967, Newman recorded his own songs for the first time, "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" and "Beehive State," which were featured in his self titled debut album and released in 1968. Although the album was not well received, the song "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" has been covered by Bette Midler, Nina Simone, Judy Collins, Dusty Springfield, Dave Van Ronk, Joe Cocker, and Katie Melua. Even the reggae-band UB40 sometimes sang the song in live performances.
Following the release of his debut album, Newman began touring and performing in concert in the early 1970s. He also conducted music for the film "Performance" in 1970, but the movie was not released until 1972. He also released his second album, "12 Songs" (1970), which received much better reviews than his first. During this time, Newman had his first U.S. hit with Three Dog Night’s recording of his song "Mama Told Me Not to Come," which rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1970. Later, in 2003, the album "12 Songs" was ranked number 354 on “Rolling Stone” magazine's list of the “500 Greatest Albums of all Time.”
Newman subsequently contributed an original song to "The Pursuit of Happiness" (1971) and wrote a film score for Norman Lear's comedy starring Dick Van Dyke, "Cold Turkey" (1971). He also released a live album titled "Randy Newman Live" (1971) and the 1972 album "Sail Away," which ranked number 321 on “Rolling Stone” magazine's list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” in 2003. The latter was reissued by Rhino Records in 2002, with bonus tracks.
In September of 1974, Newman released the album "Good Old Boys." The album marked Newman's first album to obtain major commercial success as it peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200. Three years later, in 1977, he had commercial success with the song "Short People," which led to a first gold record for the album "Little Criminals." In the late 1970s, Newman released his sixth album, "Born Again" (1979).
In 1982, Newman received his first Oscar nominations, one for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, and Original Song for the song "One More Hour," which he composed for Milos Forman's 1981 motion picture based on the historical novel by E. L. Doctorow, "Ragtime," starring James Cagney and Brad Dourif. Afterward, he released "Trouble in Paradise" (1983), which was well-received and spawned the smash hit "I Love L.A.," which would later be the ABC TV promo jingle "You'll Love It!" during the 1985-1986 seasons, as well as a duet with Paul Simon on "The Blues." He then provided the lush underscore for Barry Levinson's 1984 film adaptation of Bernard Malamud's 1952 baseball novel, "The Natural," starring Robert Redford. It earned Newman his third Academy Award nomination (for Best Music, Original Score).
In 1986, Newman co-wrote (with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels) and wrote songs for the comedy western film directed by John Landis, "¡Three Amigos!" (starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short), in which he also appeared as a singing bush. Two years later, he released the album "Land of Dreams" (1988), which contained the well-known song "It's Money That Matters." In 1989, he wrote and performed the song "I Love to See You Smile" for Ron Howard's film starring Steve Martin, "Parenthood," which garnered an Oscar Best Music, Original Song nomination. The song would later be used in toothpaste commercials.
The early 1990s saw Newman rack up a fifth Oscar nomination for the dramatic score to Levinson's feature film about Jewish ancestry, "Avalon," starring Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, Kevin Pollak, Elizabeth Perkins, Joan Plowright, and Elijah Wood. He also participated in the 1990 all-celebrity "Yakety Yak: Take it Back" national recycling awareness project.
In 1995, Newman received a Best Song Academy Award nomination for "Make Up Your Mind" from Howard's 1994 film, "The Paper." The following year, he created his first composition for the musical theater, "Faust," which opened in September, and released a conceptual recording simultaneously. Meanwhile, he provided the song score to the first all-computer generated animated motion picture "Toy Story" (1995) and was nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score and Best Music, Original Song ("You've Got a Friend").
Newman followed it up with his ninth Academy Award nomination for the score to the animated film "James and the Giant Peach" (1996). The next year, he was fired by director Wolfgang Petersen after completing the score for "Air Force One," and his work was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith’s score.
More Oscar nominations rolled in. Newman earned three Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Song for the song "That'll Do" in the film “Babe: Pig in the City” (1998), Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score for “A Bug's Life” (1998), and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for “Pleasantville” (1998). He also penned the lively score for the animated sequel "Toy Story 2" (1999), as well as wrote the song "When She Loved Me" for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song.
During this time, Newman also released a four-disc box set that chronicles the first three decades of his career, "Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman" (1998), and the tenth studio album "Bad Love" (1999), his first solo album since 1988s "Land of Dreams" that followed an 11 year hiatus during which time Newman had focused on film soundtracks.
Hitting the new millennium, Newman was involved in the creation of "The Education of Randy Newman," a stage musical telling the story of his life and set to his own music. The musical, directed by Myron Johnson and starring Jordan Bennett, Gregg Henry, Sherry Hursey, John Lathan, Allison Smith, Scott Waara, and Jennifer Leigh Warren, was staged at the South Coast Repertory Theater, in Los Angeles, from May to July 2000.
Newman earned his 14th Academy Award nomination for the song "A Fool in Love" from the film "Meet the Parents" (2000). Newman, who broke the all-time record for most Oscar nominations without any wins on February 12, 2002, finally won his first Academy Award for writing a song for “Monsters, Inc.” in March of 2002. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 2003, he was nominated for a Grammy for his contribution to the soundtrack of "Seabiscuit." He also sang background for a TV commercial for Ford Motor Company and released "The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1" (2003), which contains newly recorded, stripped down versions of some of his best known songs, including "I Think It's Going To Rain Today," "Living Without You," and "The World Isn't Fair."
In 2006, Newman scored the Disney/Pixar film "Cars" and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song for “Our Town,” which was sung by James Taylor. He recently released a studio album called "Harps and Angels" on August 5, 2008. Produced by Mitchell Froom and Lenny Waronker, the album that contains seven new songs and three updated versions of previously released songs, debuted on the U.K .Albums Chart at #46.
“I like the idea of taking a true classic written by a true genius and destroying it essentially! I like the idea of bringing it down to earth a bit - and even a bit lower than that.” Randy Newman
Next, Newman will compose songs for the upcoming films "The Princess and the Frog," an animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and based on the classic fairy tale “The Frog Prince,” and "Toy Story 3," a computer-animated 3-D film being produced by Pixar Animation Studios slated for release on June 18, 2010.
Grammy: Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, "Cars" (for the song "Our Town"), 2007
Annie: Best Music in an Animated Feature Production, "Cars," 2007
World Soundtrack: Best Original Song Written for Film, "Cars" (for the song "Our Town;" shared with James Taylor), 2006
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Meet the Fockers," 2005
ASCAP: Top TV Series, "Monk," 2005
Emmy: Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, "Monk," 2004
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Seabiscuit," 2004
Grammy: Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, "Monsters, Inc." (for the song "If I Didn't Have You"), 2003
Oscar: Best Music, Original Song, "Monsters, Inc." (for the song "If I Didn't Have You"), 2002
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Monsters, Inc.," 2002
World Soundtrack: Best Original Song Written for a Film, "Monsters, Inc." (for the song "If I Didn't Have You;" shared with Billy Crystal and John Goodman), 2002
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Meet the Parents," 2001
Grammy: Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, "Toy Story 2," (for the song "When She Loved Me"), 2001
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Toy Story 2," 2000
Annie: Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production, "Toy Story 2," 2000
Grammy: Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, "A Bug's Life," 2000
OFCS (Online Film Critics Society): Best Original Score, "Pleasantville," 1999
Annie: Best Individual Achievement: Music in a Feature/Home Video Production, "Cats Don't Dance," 1997
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Toy Story," 1996
Annie: Best Individual Achievement: Music, "Toy Story," 1996
CFCA (Chicago Film Critics Association): Best Original Score, "Toy Story," 1996
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Maverick," 1995
Emmy: Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics, "Cop Rock" (for the pilot episode), 1991
ASCAP: Top Box Office Films, "Parenthood," 1990
LAFCA (Los Angeles Film Critics Association): Best Music, "Ragtime," 1981