The Baltimore Sun

TOMMY NEWSOM, 78 Carson bandleader

Tommy Newsom, the sax player whose soft-spoken demeanor led Johnny Carson to dub him "Mr. Excitement," died Saturday at his Portsmouth, Va., home, his family announced.

Mr. Newsom, who spent 30 years as a musician and substitute bandleader for Mr. Carson's Tonight Show, died of complications from cancer.

Mr. Newsom was a studio musician who was hired to tour with Benny Goodman in the early 1960s. By 1962, he had joined the NBC-TV staff orchestra that played on several shows, including The Tonight Show.

The NBC gig was supposed to be temporary, but, as Mr. Newsom said after Mr. Carson died in 2005, "They hired me for a week and 30 years later, it ended."

Mr. Newsom retired when Mr. Carson left in 1992.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad