was born in Los Angeles, California, USA as Randall Stuart Newman. A week after his birth, Randy's family moved to New Orleans, (his mother's hometown).
He is the nephew of noted Hollywood film-score composers Alfred Newman, Emil Newman and Lionel Newman.
Randy Newman was already writing songs from the time he was 16 but at first he didn't have a lot of self-confidence and he needed pushing. He told The Big Issue:
"My friend Lenny Waronker was responsible for me starting songwriting. I would always play him things first. And even when I would fall out with a tune and say it was no good - and I would really mean it - he would tell me it was really good. He started me off, and for years he was my courage."
Since the 1980s, Newman has worked mostly as a movie composer. His movie scores include Ragtime, Awakenings, The Natural, Meet the Parents and Seabiscuit. He has also scored several Disney-Pixar movie including: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Toy Story 3, and Monsters University.
Newman has won two Academy Awards. The movie composer told the Big Issue that he is proud of his many Oscar nominations.
"That is the biggest thing for me - the fact that they like my stuff. It probably means an inordinate amount because when I was about 5 years old in New Orleans I would be at this sound stage next to the horn players, some of the best in the world, and there they were - I respected them so much. And the fact that now the people doing that think I'm good means a lot to me."
He is of Jewish descent and an atheist.
Newman has been married to Gretchen Preece since 1990. They have two children. He was previously married to German-born Roswitha Schmale from 1967 to 1985, and they had three sons together.
Newman is particularly adept at writing to spec, making him a favorite for producers looking for movie or TV songs. "I do it easily, and I do it well," he told Rolling Stone. "People say, 'Isn't it a sellout?' No, it's who I am. I'm a professional songwriter."
His songs aren't typically personal, which helps make him an effective writer for others. This is largely because of his lifestyle, which isn't very rock and roll. "What am I gonna write about? Sitting at home and reading and playing with the kids?," he once asked.
Newman had an epiphany when he wrote a song called "Lonely at the Top
," which is sung from the perspective of a singing star who still finds things to complain about. Newman thought an artist like Frank Sinatra or Barbra Streisand would record it as a satire of sorts, but they both passed, with Streisand explaining that her audience wants her to mean what she sings. Newman realized that most of the listening public feels this way, but that's not his style. From that point on, he knew that he would never have mass appeal as a solo artist.