Patrick Newman, a Santa Rosa-born harmonica player popular with blues aficionados since he appeared on the scene 40 years ago with his first band, Skeeball Jacobs, has died at age 59.

Newman performed with myriad bands, including The Rough Mix, which filled Cotati's Tradewinds tavern every Saturday night for years in the mid-1980s.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer about a month ago. He died Monday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

Newman played the harp off and on for decades with drummer and radio DJ Steve Jaxon, a lifelong friend.

"He was also an amazing singer," Jaxon said. "One of his heroes was Paul Butterfield, and he played and sang just like him."

The pair's latest band called itself The Steve Jaxon Drive when it played a gig at Sebastopol's Hopmonk Tavern two years ago.

"He was just a fun-loving, very sweet man and a great musician," Jaxon said.

Ex-wife and longtime friend Ingrid Newman of Santa Rosa recalled the first time she saw him — at a Cotati Accordion Festival in the mid-1980s.

She asked a friend, "Who's that?" The friend replied, "Oh, that's Pat Newman."

"It was on from there," Ingrid Newman said. "I fell in love with him that first time I saw him. He had charisma that was just unbelievable."

She said Newman worked for many years as a house painter and took up his harmonica once his day's work was done.

The music "was who he was," she said. "It was in his veins.

"He couldn't read music, or very little. But he could play it."

The couple had one child, Alex, who was born in 1991. They divorced 15 years ago. Patrick Newman later remarried. He and his wife, Janet Newman of Novato, have a daughter, Cassidy, who's 10.

In addition to his music and his family, Newman savored fishing at the Sonoma Coast, watching birds of prey and reading World War II history.

"Also, he was a Three Stooges fanatic," Ingrid Newman said.

A date for a celebration of his life has yet to be set.

— Chris Smith