Chris was born into an artistic, bohemian and left-wing familiy in Hertfordshire and began to play folk music on guitar at the age of four. His mother had been a professional actress and performing was in his blood. At fourteen he gave his first paid concert in a folk club.
He met the great swing guitarist and humourist Diz Disley in his late teens and played with him in folk clubs the length and breadth of the UK for a number of years. Diz was responsible for re-launching Stéphane Grappelli onto the world stage after a period of relative obscurity, and through him Chris had the good fortune to play with Grappelli’s band for a short while. Chris still cites guitarist Denny Wright, then a member of Grappelli’s quartet, as the primary influence on his distinctive and melodic style of improvisation.
Moving to Bristol in 1973, he soon involved himself in that city’s musical life, becoming involved initially in comedy band Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra and subsequently in a number of other outfits, including a couple of his own projects, the wonderfully-named Overdraft and Fallen Arches.
He spent a lot of time at the BBC in Bristol, mainly behind the scenes as a session musician, but spent a while in front of the microphone as presenter of BBC Radio Bristol’s Folk Tempo programme.
In the midst of all this, he started working with folk comedian Fred Wedlock. Spotting the commercial potential of Fred’s material, he applied his compositional, production and arrangement talents to it, thus launching Fred’s career into the mainstream. Chris received a silver disc for producing Fred’s 1981 hit The Oldest Swinger in Town - to which he also composed the tune and which reached No 4 in the charts in the UK and No 1 in several other countries. A six-month stint with Fred on Noel Edmonds’ Sunday morning BBC Radio 1 show followed - as composer-in-residence of tunes to topical ditties!
In this whirlwind of activity, Chris’s own musical interests were not neglected: he produced his first solo album Chris Newman in 1981, followed by Chris Newman Two in 1983.
One day in 1985 he decided he'd really rather play interesting music than pursue interesting paychecks, so turned his back on the commercial world and returned to his folk roots. He has since concentrated on composition and playing the traditional music of these islands and beyond.
His third solo album Fretwork (1998), a vehicle for his trademark eclecticism, was:
'A stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists' - Folk Roots
'Dazzling' - Acoustic Guitar (USA)
'Nothing short of brilliant' - Dirty Linen (USA
'The John Williams of folk guitar…takes the breath away. Newman wears his virtuosity lightly and his music has immense vitality and charm' - The Inverness Courier
'A veritable feast of immaculate guitar playing - a marvellous achievement… A testament to Newman’s ability to make the guitar grab your attention and never let you go. A great album from a respected and revered folk guitarist' - Taplas
'Guitar players don’t come any better than Chris Newman.. I’d blithely cross snow- capped mountains and ford raging rivers to see him play' - The Living Tradition
Still Getting Away with It is his fourth solo album.