James Gaston Newman II was the first husband of legendary singer Gladys Knight, who is singing the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
Knight was married to her first husband at the young age of 16. Newman passed away in the mid-1970s and little biographical information is known about him.
Here’s what we do know.
1. James Newman Was Reportedly a Musician in Atlanta
James Newman and Gladys Knight may have bonded over a shared love of music. Knight was born and raised in Atlanta and began her musical career as a young child.
Newman is described by Biography.com as an Atlanta musician. He reportedly served as a music manager for his wife’s band the Pips.
James Newman should not be confused with another musician of the same name. Cajun musician Jimmy C. Newman of Louisiana, who played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, died in 2014 at the age of 86.
2. James Newman & Gladys Knight Got Married After She Became Pregnant
James Newman married Gladys Knight in 1960. She was just 16 years old at the time.
They tied the knot after she became pregnant. Knight discussed her early years in her autobiography, “Between Each Line of Pain and Glory: My Life Story,” which was published in 1997. In the book, she explained that her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
Knight said she suffered the miscarriage while staying in a hotel. She had been on tour with her band, the “Pips” at the time.
3. James Newman Was Reportedly Addicted to Drugs
Gladys Knight claimed in her 1997 autobiography that her first husband had been a drug addict. She said that dependency created serious problems in their marriage.
Newman reportedly moved out after four years of marriage, when Knight was 20 years old.
Newman and Knight were legally married for several more years. They got divorced in 1973. In her autobiography, Knight referred to Newman as the love of her life, despite all the drama.
Newman passed away sometime during the 1970s. We have been looking for an obituary, but there does not appear to be an online version of one.
4. James Newman & Gladys Knight Had Two Children Together
James Newman and Gladys Knight’s first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. But they went on to have two children together.
Their son, James Gaston Newman III, was born in 1962. As an adult, he became his mother’s manager. He was married to wife Micheline and they had five children, three sons and two daughters.
Their daughter, Kenya Newman Jackson, arrived the following year. She grew up to become a gourmet baker. According to a profile in People in 1997, Kenya had two bakeries in Las Vegas: Kenya’s Gourmet Bakery and Kenya’s Cakes of the Stars. She is also the mother of five children.
5. James Newman’s Son Died at the Age of 37 From Heart Failure
Gladys Knight lost her oldest son in July of 1999. James Newman III died from heart failure in Las Vegas, reportedly in his sleep. He was just 37 years old.
According to his obituary in the Las Vegas Sun, Newman III played football at Bishop Gorman High School. He graduated from the University of San Diego in 1984. He ran his own management company and his list of clients included his own mother.