Thunderclap Newman was the ultimate one-hit wonder band. Their lone hit "Something In The Air" has been in countless commercials, movies and TV shows, It's for a good reason, too. Why? Because the song is really, really, really good.
Formed in 1968, the band consisted of three members: vocalist, guitarist and drummer John "Speedy" Keen, pianist Andy "Thunderclap" Newman and guitarist Jimmy McCullough.
Although he isn't pictured, you could say the band had one other member. He was a gifted singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer who played in a very successful band. Who was he? Get this...
Pete Townshend of The Who
Pete Townshend not only assembled Thunderclap Newman, he produced them and played bass on all their singles. Townshend had met singer John "Speedy" Keen during the sessions for one of The Who's best albums The Who Sell Out. Keen had written the opening song "Armenia In The Sky"—one of only a few Who songs NOT written by Pete Townshend, by the way.
So, Pete decided he wanted to work on some other projects between albums for The Who. He brought Speedy to his home studio to record the song "Something In The Air." He also brought Thunderclap and Jimmy (who was only 15) for completely unrelated projects. You could say he was trying to start another career as a marathon producer.
Thunderclap Newman wasn't intended to be a band, but a band it became. Pete had a lot of work ahead of him for what would become the album Tommy, so he decided to scrap the other projects and just focus on "Something In The Air" using Thunderclap and Jimmy for additional backing.
The only person who expected the song to be huge was probably Pete Townshend. He had such good taste and was such a genius that he had to have known "Something In The Air" was a really special piece of music that had the power to move people. It really is. The song hit number one in 1969.
The band released an LP's worth of tunes and several other singles, but nothing reached the impact of "Something In The Air." The band broke up in 1971 but partially resurfaced in 2007. Today the song still sounds incredibly fresh.
Here's my favorite version of the song which appeared on a reissue of the soundtrack to the film Easy Rider.
Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman