Thomas Penn "Tommy" Newsom (February 25, 1929 – April 28, 2007) was a saxophone player in the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, an orchestra he later became assistant director of. Newsom was frequently the band’s substitute director, whenever Doc Severinsen was away from the show or filling in for announcer Ed McMahon. Nicknamed "Mr. Excitement" as a sarcastic take on his low-keyed, often dull persona, Newsom was often a foil for Carson’s humor. His brown or blue suits were a marked contrast to Severinsen’s flashy stage clothing.
Newsom joined the band in 1962, and left it when Carson retired in 1992.
Newsom died of bladder and liver cancer at his home in Portsmouth.
Tommy" Newsom was 78 years old at the time of his death
Newsom won two Emmy Awards as a musical director, in 1982 with Night of 100 Stars and in 1986 for the 40th Annual Tony Awards. He also recorded several albums as a bandleader.
Newsom was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. He earned degrees from the College of William & Mary, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and Columbia University. He served in the Air Force where he played in the band, and later toured with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and performed with Vincent Lopez in New York. In addition to Carson’s orchestra, Newsom performed with the orchestra for the Merv Griffin Show.
Newsom was as well known within the music industry as an arranger as he was a performer. He arranged for groups as varied as the Tonight Show ensemble and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and musicians Skitch Henderson, Woody Herman, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Byrd, John Denver, and opera star Beverly Sills.
Tommy Newsom had been married to his wife Patricia for 50 years; they had one daughter, Candy.