UPDATED: In announcing the postponement of some European tour dates that were to begin this month, Randy Newman revealed that he is recovering from a broken neck, and in his droll fashion referred to one of his most famous songs in discussing his diagnosis.
“Recently, I noticed I was shrinking. People over whom I had towered now towered over me. I went to the doctor, they measured me and discovered that I had lost nearly five inches. Could this be payback for having written ‘Short People’? The thought of it gave me chills. The doctor said, ‘There appears to be something wrong with your neck.’ I said, ‘Yes, it hurts, too.’ So they took some pictures. My neck was broken. How? I don’t really know – or maybe I do know.”
“They operated on my successfully, I think. For even now I look less like an anteater and more like a folk-rock artist from the early ’60s. I’m starting to play again. I can now play the minute waltz in 52 seconds. See you soon.”
(An earlier version of this statement published in Variety did not include the aside that he “doesn’t really know” — or maybe does — how the broken neck occurred.)
In what may or may not have been a deliberate act of whimsicality, the word “anteater” was officially tagged for SEO in Newman’s website statement.
Those fairly jocular asides were the extent of his sharing about his health, as the main purpose of his statement was to tell overseas fans that he would not be joining them as planned. Newman went on to say that “the doctor said I’m not quite ready to tour. I was really looking forward to coming to Europe to perform. I miss performing a great deal and I look forward to a time when I can come. I’m sorry I won’t see you this time but I will see you soon.”
The announcement added that ticket holders would “be contacted by their point of purchase with further information and news of their rescheduled date soon.”
The postponement represents a further setback for European fans who had first bought tickets in September 2019 for a tour that was scheduled to take place in May-June 2020 in the U.K., Sweden, Norway, Germany and France, before it was ultimately bumped to 2022 due to the pandemic.
Newman is also set to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 1, and so far, that date remains on his calendar.
Since his last non-soundtrack album, “Dark Matter” came out in 2018 — accompanied by a headline show at the Hollywood Bowl — Newman had been focusing on film work and has played few recent dates, although he did perform at the Newport Folk Festival in July 2021.
Newman was scheduled to be one of four honorees at a private benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America in Los Angeles this Sunday, along with Smokey Robinson, Lou Adler and Bennie Maupin, and there have been no public updates on whether he is still expected to attnd the event.