Las Vegas Sun

November 17, 2019

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Record exec, entertainment manager Newman dies

James "Jimmy" Gaston Newman III, a Las Vegas record executive, entertainment manager and former football star at Bishop Gorman High School, has died in Las Vegas. He was 36.

Newman, the son of pop music legend Gladys Knight, was found dead Saturday at his home. The cause of death was not released. Clark County Coroner Ron Flud said it appears that Newman died of natural causes. An autopsy is pending.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at Palm Mortuary Eastern. Services will be 11 a.m. Thursday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Redrock Stake Center, 221 Lorenzi St. Interment will be at Palm Valley View Cemetery.

"We are devastated by the tragic loss of Jimmy," Knight said in a statement Monday. "He was a very special person and his absence in our family will be greatly felt.

"For years he had been our champion and the bedrock of this family through the example of his works and faith. We will always be grateful for his love and for introducing us to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Newman recently was appointed vice president of West Coast operations for Blackground/Virgin Records.

Newman was born Aug. 13, 1962, at McLendon Hospital in Atlanta to Knight and James Gaston Newman II.

While Newman was growing up, his mother, as leader of the soul group Gladys Knight and the Pips, became a pop icon of the 1960s and '70s.

Newman graduated from Bishop Gorman High School in 1980. He played varsity football his sophomore, junior and senior years. He earned a spot on the Nevada All-State football team as a defensive back.

"Although Jimmy was the smallest on the team, he was respected for his dedication and he was known for the intensity with which he played," Knight family spokesman Mike Ballard said Monday.

Newman also was a member of the school's award-winning performing group "Harmony Express."

Newman graduated from the University of San Diego in 1984 with a bachelor of science degree in business and accounting and then became the road manager for Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Five years later he formed his own management company, Newman Management Inc., and became personal manager for his mother and other artists including Carl Strong, Byron Allen, Bebe Winans and Tamar Braxton.

Last year Newman founded Many Roads Records. The company's first release was Knight's inspirational album "Many Different Roads." On July 3 the album debuted on the Billboard Magazine Top 40 Gospel Albums at No. 23.

Newman's mother was performing in Delaware Saturday night and was informed of her son's death after a concert before a packed house at Dover Downs.

For Knight, a resident of Henderson, it was a second tragedy in less than two years. Her 80-year-old mother, Elizabeth "Gram" Knight, who had helped launch her daughter's career, died in December 1997 in Las Vegas.

In 1959 Gladys and brother Bubba Knight, a Las Vegas resident who performed with his sister Saturday in Delaware, and two cousins, formed the Pips and a year later had their first hit with "Every Beat of My Heart."

Upon learning of her son's death, Knight canceled four shows on her East Coast swing and returned to Las Vegas Sunday, Ballard said.

In addition to Knight, Newman is survived by his wife, Micheline Newman of Las Vegas; three sons, Rishawn Newman, age 14, Stefan Newman, 7, and Sterling Newman, 5, all of Las Vegas; two daughters, Nastasia Newman, 10, and Gabrielle Newman, 4, both of Las Vegas; a stepfather, Barry Hankerson of California; a sister, Kenya Jackson of Henderson; and three brothers, Shanga Hankerson and Jimmy Jordan both of Atlanta and Jomo Hankerson of New York City.

The family said donations can be made in Newman's memory to the Newman Children's Education Fund at Wells Fargo Bank, Account No. 6835665183.