Richard Newell
King Biscuit Boy
(Mar 9, 1944 - Jan 05, 2003)
Official Music
Saying Good-bye
Obituary Condolences Harmonica King by Gary Curtis My Big Brother by Guitar Mikey

King Biscuit Boy
March 9, 1944 - January 05, 2003
My Big Brother

Richard Newell a.k.a. King Biscuit Boy was everyone’s mentor.  I knew him personally as few had and although obviously a man with demons, he was a man who cared about his friends and about the music.  His love of the music could on the surface seem closed minded but that was only to the casual onlooker.  He in fact overtly expressed disdain for the many imitators and imposters who stole from the originators.  This was purely a crusade to defend those who were the true originators; but with a wink, a nudge and a smile he would occasionally acknowledge his admiration for some, and the execution of their craft.  Often he would even admit it is how he would like to have done it.

Rich's parents were always so proud of their son and for good reason.  Rich was everyone’s mentor.  He exposed everyone around him to this American cultural staple ‘The Blues’ starting from his adolescence, when he had to go to Buffalo NY to get the latest Jimmy Reed records.  He would then bring them back to share with his friends.  I myself worked with many musicians who were hugely influenced by Rich’s own records before ever having a chance to meet him.  The string of musicians that passed through his band and record projects are too numerous to mention.  I can imagine how any person who worked with Rich for any amount of time, would see the experience as being invaluable to their own growth as a musician.

I myself attended Newell U for many years.  We spent countless hours, days, months and years listening and talking about the main players like Muddy and Wolf to the more obscure.  We found artists that bonded us together on a more personal level, as I am sure each attendee had their own bond with him.  For Rich and I it was Scrapper Blackwell and Blind Snooks Eaglin.  I often smile when I tell people of the times we would make the trip to the record vault at the beginning of class and I would find pencil scratching on the jackets of the records he cherished so much.  Only to realized that he had crossed out the musician credit names and replaced them with who actually was on the record.  He knew it so well.  Then there was the excitement of the records that he couldn’t identify who for sure was on the session.  Was it James Burton on guitar or his replacement trying to sound like him?  That’s when you could really feel his excitement, your excitement.

Rich was everyone’s mentor but unlike most, I stayed well after class ended and got to know him as few would.  For a few years Rich’s home became my second.  I was there 3 or 4 nights a week from after dinner to the wee hours of the morning.  I got to know him away from the booze, bars and the scene.  That Rich was a generous loyal friend.  One of the most intelligent, funniest men I will ever know.   All I remember is laughing a lot.  He treated me as he called me - his ‘little brother’.  Over the years I saw less and less of this Rich but this is the Rich I remember.

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