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Newton Collier

Newton Collier was born on July 23, 1945 in Macon, Georgia. His parents, Lucile Birdsong and Newton Collier, led a group called the Sweethearts of Rhythm. With his parents' example to guide him, Collier began playing piano at age six and the trumpet at ten. He started playing professionally with the Pinetoppers, the original band backing Otis Redding. Soon after graduating from Ballard Hudson High School in 1963, he joined Sam and Dave, who are best known for their 1967 Grammy award-winning song "Soul Man."

Sam and Dave's band broke up in 1970 after an international tour. The horn section formed a new band called LTD and moved to Boston. Collier worked on a freelance basis and married his sweetheart, Beverly Nelson. Their daughter, Charity, was born in 1973. Then, one night in 1976, tragedy struck. Collier was going home from an engagement when an unknown assailant shot him in the face. After three years of reconstructive surgery and recovery, Collier could speak well enough to be understood-but he could not withstand the pressure required to play the trumpet or trombone.

After the accident, Collier helped publish Progressive Platter Music Review. Having studied electronics at Boston's Wentworth Institute, he found work as an electronic technician-first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1970 to 1976, then at Wells Fargo from 1976 to 1982. From 1979 to 1988, he worked in the fledgling computer industry at Honeywell Computers. In 1984, Collier learned of an instrument designed by John Steiner at M.I.T. called the E.V.I., Electronic Valve Instrument. This windblown synthesizer, sounding like a trumpet but requiring far less air, enabled Collier to play in Boston-area cafes and small clubs.

In 1988, Collier moved back to Macon and opened Collier's Records and Tapes, specializing in rare and collectible albums. Unfortunately, despite the store's magnificent collection, it did not turn a profit and closed in 1997. Collier now makes a living as a taxicab driver.

Who's Who in Black Music, 1984. p. 128.

Accession Number




Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category

New Ballard Hudson Middle School

Ingram/Pye Elementary School

Miller Fine Arts Magnet Middle School

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season

All Seasons


Knight Foundation



Favorite Vacation Destination

Memphis, Tennessee

Favorite Quote

I Take What I Want, And I'm A Bad Boy. I Go Get It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State


Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City




Favorite Food


Short Description

R & B trumpet player and R & B trombone player Newton Collier (1945 - ) was a former member of Sam and Dave, best known for their song, "Soul Man." After a critical gunshot wound in the face, Collier was no longer able to play traditional instruments, but transitioned to a windblown synthesizer and later opened Collier's Records and Tapes.


Sam & Dave


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Wells Fargo

Honeywell, Inc.

Collier's Records and Tapes

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Green

Timing Pairs

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Newton Collier's interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Newton Collier lists his favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Newton Collier describes his parents' backgrounds</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Newton Collier talks about his childhood interest in music</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Newton Collier describes his grandmothers</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Newton Collier describes his relationship with his mother</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Newton Collier talks about his step-father and his siblings</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Newton Collier describes growing up in Macon, Georgia</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Newton Collier describes having spinal meningitis as a small child</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Newton Collier describes his childhood personality</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Newton Collier talks about being introduced to music as a child</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Newton Collier recalls his favorite teachers</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Newton Collier remembers how spinal meningitis affected his childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Newton Collier talks about his music mentor, Robert Scott</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Newton Collier describes learning to play the trumpet</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Newton Collier recalls playing his first solo at the Two Spot Club as a teenager</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Newton Collier talks about music mentor and bandleader Gladys Williams</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Newton Collier describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Macon, Georgia</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Newton Collier recalls meeting Sammy Davis, Jr.</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Newton Collier shares his earliest memories of Otis Redding</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Newton Collier talks about deciding to tour with Otis Redding</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Newton Collier recalls joining Leroy Lloyd and the Swinging Dukes</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Newton Collier remembers meeting Maceo Parker</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Newton Collier talks about club owner, Clint Brantley, and his acts James Brown and Little Richard</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Newton Collier recalls avoiding trouble while spending time at Clint Brantley's club</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Newton Collier talks about how shrewdly Clint Brantley handled his club promotion business, pt.1</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Newton Collier talks about how shrewdly Clint Brantley handled his club promotion business, pt.2</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Newton Collier talks about playing trumpet for Sam and Dave and the emergence of Stax records</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Newton Collier describes life on tour with Sam and Dave in the volatile 1960s</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Newton Collier talks about producing and arranging songs for Sam and Dave</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Newton Collier recalls learning about Otis Redding's death</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Newton Collier describes the impact of Otis Redding's death on him</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Newton Collier talks about moving to Boston, Massachusetts in 1969 and getting married</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Newton Collier shares memories of the Doo Wop musicians in his neighborhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Newton Collier talks about his relationship with Otis Redding</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Newton Collier talks about returning to the music business</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Newton Collier talks about forming the band LTD featuring Jeffrey Osborne</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Newton Collier talks about promoting the band LTD</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Newton Collier talks about being hired at Massachusetts Institute of Technology</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Newton Collier describes working at MIT and NASA</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Newton Collier describes astronaut Ronald McNair</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Newton Collier describes being shot in 1976</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Newton Collier talks about his recovery from a facial gunshot wound</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Newton Collier talks about opening his record store Collier's Corner</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Newton Collier talks about Ronald McNair's death in 1986</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Newton Collier talks about his mother's later years and death</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Newton Collier talks about his father's death</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Newton Collier describes discovering his Native American ancestry</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Newton Collier talks about becoming part of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Newton Collier talks about the role of music for African American young people</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Newton Collier reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Newton Collier describes the chittlin circuit</a>

<a href="">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Newton Collier talks about discrimination while touring in the South</a>

<a href="">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Newton Collier contrasts various musical styles and describes how he learned to write charts</a>

<a href="">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Newton Collier narrates his photographs</a>







Newton Collier recalls playing his first solo at the Two Spot Club as a teenager
Newton Collier shares memories of the Doo Wop musicians in his neighborhood
And I was learning the way the guys in the band were so that became a--I don't remember exactly when, but there came a time where I started playing in Clint's band. Clint [Brantley] told me, go on up there and play. So I just went on up there--'cause, you know, for a long time, I'd take my horn and never got a chance to use it. Hey, man, it's getting to be embarrassing. So I just, I wouldn't take my horn a lot of times because, you know, I wasn't gon' play, just sit there and listen. So I eventually got a chance to play. And it was with [Sammy] Coleman. I was standing next to him playing and Shang-A-Lang was another guy that was--his name is Harold Smith. He had played with Little Richard and Otis [Redding] and a lot of the bands in the old days. So they let me. I don't know whether I goofed up or not 'cause I mentally focused out. I remember the first solo that they had--it was "Watermelon Man", and Shane walked over and said, "You gotta take the solo after the next four bars." Out the clear blue sky, he just told me that. And I said, "solo". I think I might have missed two notes coming down 'cause I was trying to say "uh-oh" (laughter), what I'm gonna do? (Laughter). And the first solo I ever took, it always sticks in my mind. If Coleman hadn't told me, he said, "Play half tones until you feel the key and then play 8th and 16 notes when you feel the other part." So I think the song was going in four-four time, and I was in some elongated time. It sounded like a drone going on. And Mr. Shane looked at me and saw the smile and Coleman was just--they just burst out and started laughing. And, well, that--I think that's the beginning of the time I really learned how to sweat on stage. I was sweating. I sweated that whole solo out. But I got through. And I got through with the song, and Shane said, "Well, you gon' take the next solo. Coleman wanna help you at home (unclear). I looked at him (laughter), I looked, "What you mean, going home? You gon' leave me--in my mind, I said, you gon' leave me out here to swim now?" (Laughter) But that's what they did. They left me out there. Coleman went over to the bar, and here I'm standing up there. And in reality, I just wanted to just walk on behind him, but I said, nah, let me stay here. And I stayed there, and that's when I found out I was ready.$$What was the name of the club?$$It's called the "Two Spot."$Being around the Doo Wop guys and, well, and him singing solo too. He worked with the Oscar Mack, James Duncan, Percy Wilts (ph.) and different guys like that around locally. They were all like singing together. It's another guy named Bill Jones who taught Otis [Redding] how to sing that style, and the way I fit in was I used to come up and hang out with Bill Jones' brother. And now, I'm sort of, I'm sort of like a little kid hanging around. I was a insider that way. And I guess my mother and my aunt felt okay 'cause it was Otis [Redding], and Otis' dad was a preacher, and Otis wasn't doing nothing, they thought (laughter). They didn't know, because he--that secret was kept very well. And so I got a chance to be a insider and to be an outsider at the same time. So when they started going to the Douglas and things, I would tag along, and Johnny Jenkins who lived indirectly across the street from my aunt, on the same street, about four houses down and across the street. And Otis and them would come down and rehearse with Johnny and them. Ray Satellite Papa Brown, who was one of the legendary D.J.'s, just coincidentally lived further on down the street. He was about eight houses from where we lived, on the same side. So I could walk straight down to his house, but I knew not to go across--I wasn't allowed over there 'cause they were drinking liquor over there. So I stayed on my side and went on down. And they would see me. I would stand out there, and a couple of times I was actually taking my horn and walked all the way down to the branch. And they'll be playing music, and I'd stand there in the branch and shoot my horn back their way and try and play with 'em. And so I think they paid attention to all of that too, (unclear). Johnny told me one time, he said, they used to watch me do--see what I would be doing next. And then, and I asked him, did (unclear) I ever play a thing. He said, yeah, man, we did, a couple of times we played some songs to see what you gonna do. And say, okay, and then Patty T-Cake--his name was Charles Abrams, he came to bury his sister. He was a drummer and the leader of the band, and he used to--and I asked him the same thing. He said, oh, buddy, you know we were watching you (laughter), just like that. And so I said, hum, I'm glad someone was paying attention in those days. And so eventually, as I was getting older, I'm, I can actually hang out with these guys a little bit more. I'm getting older and now they see that I'm gonna be in the clubs with them, so I'm a shoe-in wherever they start hanging out. That's how our relationship started growing and got closer. And that's just about the time Phil Walden stepped in and start booking Otis and the band. And they formed a partnership, Phil Walden, Allen Walden and Otis Redding. And it was called "Red Wald Music". Red Wald Music now is a production company and talent booking agency and they grew to be one of the largest agencies in the nation. They had all the soul acts booked out of Macon, Georgia. And that's where I fit in and I came in--I was a trumpet player, and they needed bands. They needed musicians. And I knew how to play all the different, different types of music. Boom, there I was.