David Clayton-Thomas began his amazing journey as a homeless street kid and developed into one of the most recognizable voices in music, to date selling over 40 million records. In 1996 he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and in 2007 his jazz/rock composition “Spinning Wheel” was enshrined in the Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame. In 2010, David received his star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
His 1968 debut album with Blood Sweat & Tears sold 10 million copies worldwide. The self-titled record topped the Billboard album chart for seven weeks, and charted for a staggering 109 weeks. It won an unprecedented five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Best Performance by a Male Vocalist. It featured three hit singles, “You Made Me So Very Happy” “And When I Die”,” and “Spinning Wheel” as well as an irresistible rendition of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” that became a signature song for David. A 1969 summary in the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that “Blood Sweat & Tears just may be the most important pop music group of the decade”.
In 1962, he gravitated to the Yonge Street “strip” in Toronto. “The “strip” was a bawdy six block long stretch of bars and strip joints populated by a rough crowd of hustlers and hookers, catering to a rowdy clientele of steelworkers, truckers and miners, in town for the weekend, looking to blow off steam along with their pay cheques. Rhythm & Blues, migrating up from Detroit and Chicago was the music of choice on the strip and Arkansas rockabilly Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins, with his band “The Hawks” reigned supreme. Hawkins recognized the formidable talent of the young singer and took him under his wing. It wasn’t long before he was fronting his own bands. The first was called “David Clayton-Thomas and The Fabulous Shays.” By this time David had changed his name to put some distance between his new life and his troubled teenage years.
With David largely dominating the creative output, BS&T continued with a string of hit albums, including “Blood Sweat & Tears 3″ which featuring such highpoints as David’s “Lucretia MacEvil,” and Carole King’s “Hi-De-Ho,” and “BS&T 4″ which yielded another Clayton-Thomas penned hit single, “Go Down Gamblin’.” Blood Sweat & Tears’ “Greatest Hits” album has to date chalked up over seven million copies in worldwide sales.
BS&T headlined at major venues around the world… Royal Albert Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, The Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden and Caesar’s Palace, as well as the Newport Jazz Festival and Woodstock. It was the first contemporary band to break through the Iron Curtain with its historic 1970 tour of Eastern Europe.
Today, living back in Toronto, his boyhood turf and the place where he still feels most at home, David has launched a 10 piece band under his own name.
Through the years, he has lost none of the attributes that have made him one of the greatest vocalists of his generation. That unmistakable voice now soaring and sunny, now a dark, somber shade of blue. He still just sings the hell out of a song.
“People like me don’t retire,” says David with his face in a wide grin around those storied, steel-blue eyes.” This is what I was put here to do”. With the BS&T years now behind him, look for an outpouring of new music from this gifted and fiercely creative artist.