Gladys Knight’s Son & Manager Died at Only 36 After Alleged Heart Failure

Gladys Knight lost a son who died at a very young age due to heart failure. There were reports that suggested his death was a reflection of his late father who died a drug addict.

It is every parent’s nightmare to have to bury their children. And Gladys Knight suffered that fate when her eldest son, James “Jimmy” Newman III died of heart failure in 1999.


Gladys’ successful career can be credited in part to Jimmy who became her manager after graduating from college. He steered her to stardom through his company, Newman Mangement which also took care of the careers of his uncles and cousins known as The Pips from his mother’s former group, Gladys Knight and the Pips.

"I am happy in my spirit for where I know for sure he is."


Jimmy’s death at 36 years old struck Gladys hard, as she remembered him not only for the man who helped her with her career but who brought her closer to Jesus. 

During his marriage to Michelene with whom he had five children, Jimmy joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later encouraged his mother to join them. Upon his death, Gladys was grateful to him for leading her to that path. She told Ottawa Citizen,

“He [Jimmy] brought me to my church, and I just grew immensely from his example. I am happy in my spirit for where I know for sure he is."

Armed with her faith, Gladys relied on the comfort of knowing her son is with the Lord and that they would see each other again.

There were reports that suggested he died from an alcohol and cocaine binge.


Jimmy’s father was Gladys’ first husband, jazz musician James Newman II who married her in 1960 when she was only 16. They shared two children, Jimmy, and daughter Kenya. They divorced in 1973. A few years later, James, who was a drug addict died at the age of 35.

James’ death became the basis for many to suspect Jimmy’s passing was more than just the result of heart failure. There were reports that suggested he died from an alcohol and cocaine binge. There were also conflicting reports saying he died of natural causes but it raised questions considering he was a healthy man.

Regardless of the cause of his death, Gladys has moved on from that and is focused on her loved ones who are alive. She’s now married to her fourth husband, William McDowell and they share 17 grandchildren and 10 children. 


Last month, Gladys turned 75 and had a weekend celebration capped by a dinner party attended by friends and family both in and out of the industry. The occasion was made special by a dance number she and her husband performed. They showed their guests they were still very much in love after 18 years. It was inspiring to see them in sync on the dance floor as evident in the clip Gladys shared on her Instagram. 

Gladys may have suffered a terrible loss that will never make her whole again but she can still consider herself blessed with a loving husband, a big family, and a lifelong career that withstood the test of time.