With the release of her debut solo album in 1981, Juice, Juice Newton launched a string of country-rock crossover hits: “Angel of the Morning,” “Queen of Hearts,” “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known),” “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me,” and “Break It To Me Gently,” all of which charted on both the pop and country charts. By the mid-1980s she had settled down with her family, but continued to record new albums. In the 1990s she began to perform in nightclubs and released a new album, American Girl, in 1999.
Born Judy Kay Newton on February 18, 1952, in Lake-hurst, New Jersey, Newton was raised in Virginia. Her father was a Navy officer, and her mother gave her a guitar when she was a teen. She became obsessed with folk music and played in coffeehouses while attending Foothills College in Los Altos Hills, California. During these musically formative years, she met fellow guitar player and songwriter Otha Young. The two formed Dixie Peach, a folk-rock band, and played in northern California bars.
Dixie Peach stirred up a small following during its one-year span and, when the band broke up, Newton and Young formed Juice Newton & Silver Spur, which was more country-inclined than Dixie Peach. The success of Juice Newton & Silver Spur led the band to Los Angeles in search of a record contract. In 1976, nearly a year after signing with RCA records, the band released its self-titled debut, which produced the single “Love Is a Word.” Less than a year later, Juice Newton & Silver Spur released After the Dust Settles, which was such a dud that RCA dropped them soon after its release. The band was picked up by Capitol Records to release Come to Me in 1978, but it met with such little fanfare that Silver Spur disbanded that year, though Newton and Young remained together.
Still working under contract with Capitol, Newton and Young began crafting what would become Newton’s solo debut, Juice, which was released in 1981. The platinum-selling album produced a string of crossover hits for the newly solo artist, starting with “Angel of the Morning,” which climbed to number four on the pop charts and number 22 on the country charts. “Queen of Hearts” reached number two on the pop charts and number 14 on the country charts. “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)” was a numberone country hit and reached number seven on the pop charts. Newton’s sophomore release, Quiet Lies, continued her crossover success, earning gold-record status for sales before the end of 1982. Off Quiet Lies came the top-ten pop hit “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me,” and the number-two country hit “Break It To Me Gently,” which earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1982.
Newton tested the boundaries of any label people applied to her—country, pop, country-pop, country-rock—so much so that one People critic, in a 1983
Born Judy Kay Newton on February 18, 1952, in Lakehurst, NJ; married Tom Goodspeed, 1985; children: Jessica, Tyler. Education: Attended Foothills College, Los Altos Hills, CA.
Formed Dixie Peach with Otha Young, early 1970s; formed Juice Newton & Silver Spur, mid-1970s; signed with RCA records, 1975; released Juice Newton & Silver Spur, 1976; released After the Dust Settles, 1977; signed with Capitol Records, released Come to Me, 1978; Silver Spur disbanded, 1978; released solo debut, Juice, 1981; released Quiet Lies, 1982; scored pop and country hits with “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me” and “Break It To Me Gently,” respectively, 1982; released Dirty Looks, 1983; Can’t Wait All Night, 1984; Old Flame, 1985; Emotion, 1987; Ain’t Gonna Cry, 1989; Trouble With Angels, 1998; and American Girl, 1999.
Awards: Grammy Award, Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Break It To Me Gently,” 1982.
review, declared: “All right, let’s give up trying to classify old Juice.” But it seemed her fans had lost some interest and done just that—Dirty Looks, Newton’s third release, failed to produce a charting single on either the pop or country charts. In the album Newton explored honky-tonk on the track “Keeping Me on My Toes” and pop on “Stranger at My Door.” She encouraged looking ahead in the track “Twenty Years Ago” and sang the lullaby “For Believers.”
Newton returned to RCA for Can’t Wait All Night, her upbeat 1984 release. The partnership change broke her slump, and she started making top-ten country hits once again. Can’t Wait All Night “leans a little harder on the rock side” of the country-rock label, wrote a People critic in a 1984 review. She reached deep and performed the Ray Charles hit ballad “You Don’t Know Me,” and sang the 1962 Chris Montez hit “Let’s Dance.” “Eye of the Hurricane,” written by Otha Young, is more “consistent” with Newton’s style, according to People and, paired with “(You Don’t Hear) The One That Gets You By,” creates the “lighthearted” mood of the album.
On her 1985 album Old Flame, Newton was “loose[r] and a lot mellower than usual,” wrote critic Ralph Novak in People. Songs like Newton’s version of the 1973 Stealers Wheel hit “Stuck in the Middle With You,” “One Touch,” and “Let Your Woman Take Care of You” had a country-pop flavor with enough of a rock edge to keep her fans wanting “to play it again.” Those who had grown accustomed to Newton’s rock-tinged country may have been disappointed by her 1987 release, Emotion, however. Among the tracks were the songs “If I Didn’t Love You,” “I Still Love You” (which she wrote with Young), and “First-Time Caller,” an up-tempo song about a call-in radio show. The album was comprised almost entirely of straight-ahead country tunes that Novak considered “very enjoyable” in his People review and made Newton worthy of the title of “first-class country singer.”
Newton returned to her rock roots for Ain’t Gonna Cry, released in 1989. After nearly 15 years in music, Newton “gets fresher sounding all the time,” according to a People review written by Novak in 1989. Her brand of country rock worked its way into the songs “When Love comes Around the Bend,” “You’re Making It Easy,” and “The Moment You Were Mine.” Newton also performed covers of the Crystals’ “(And) Then He Kissed Me” and Cheryl Wheeler’s “I’m Only Walkin’.”
Though she had continued churning out albums, Newton tired of being a music star during the mid-1980s, according to a 1996 special issue of People titled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Then and Now.” She had achieved her goal. “I was already satisfied,” she told People. “My goal was to make records, not be a household name,” which, ironically, she had become. So she focused on her domestic dream: she bought a Thoroughbred horse in 1983 and married professional polo player Tom Good-speed in 1985. The two moved near San Diego, California, and had two children, Jessica and Tyler. For most of the 1990s, Newton toured the nightclub circuit, playing and singing pop. She released Trouble with Angels in 1998 and American Girl in 1999.
Juice, Capitol, 1981.
Quiet Lies, Capitol, 1982.
Dirty Looks, Capitol, 1983.
Can’t Wait All Night, RCA, 1984.
Juice Newton Greatest Hits, Capitol, 1984.
Old Flame, RCA, 1985.
Emotion, RCA, 1987.
Greatest Hits & More, Capitol, 1987.
Ain’t Gonna Cry, RCA, 1989.
Greatest Country Hits, RCA, 1990.
Juice Newton Greatest Hits, CEMA, 1991.
The Early Years, RCA, 1992.
Emotions, RCA/BMG, 1993.
Trouble With Angels, River North, 1996.
Anthology, Renaissance, 1998.
American Girl, Renaissance, 1999.
With Silver Spur
Juice Newton & Silver Spur, RCA, 1975.
After the Dust Settles, RCA, 1976.
Come to Me, Capitol, 1977.
Well Kept Secret, Capitol, 1978.
Take Heart, Capitol, 1979.
Mansfield, Brian, and Gary Graff, editors, MusicHound Country: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1997.
People, October 3, 1983, p. 20; July 30, 1984, p. 16; November 18, 1985, p. 30; December 18, 1989, p. 42; June 17, 1996, p. 76.
“Juice Newton,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 24, 2001).
Juice Newton Official Website, http://www.juicenewton.com (January 24, 2001).
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