David Clayton-Thomas (b Thomsett). Singer, songwriter, producer, b Surrey, England, of British-Canadian parents, 13 Sep 1941. Clayton-Thomas and his family moved to Canada when he was four and settled near Toronto. After taking up the guitar in his late teens during a series of terms in Ontario prisons, he began performing in Toronto nightclubs in the early 1960s, and developed a reputation as a tough, brawling blues singer. As Sonny Thomas (later David Clayton-Thomas) he led the Fabulous Shays, an R&B band that recorded the local hits "Walk That Walk" (1965, Red Leaf) and "Out of the Sunshine" (1965, Roman). He then formed the Bossmen, one of the first rock bands to incorporate jazz elements, eg, "Brainwashed" (1966), written by Clayton-Thomas and the jazz pianist and band member Tony Collacott.
Clayton-Thomas moved to the U.S. in 1966 and became the lead singer for the New York jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968-72). The group's debut album, Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968), sold 10 million copies worldwide and won five Grammy awards including album of the year and best performance by a male vocalist. The group worked with Columbia Records (see Sony Music Entertainment) to produce international hits such as his own songs "Spinning Wheel" (1969) and "Lucretia MacEvil" (1970), as well as "And When I Die" and "You Make Me So Very Happy" (1969), and "Hi-De-Ho" (1970). The band recorded several LPs for Columbia and toured widely in North America, Asia, South America, and Europe, including performances in Romania, Poland, Russia, and Yugoslavia in 1970 to 1971.
From 1972 to 1974 Clayton-Thomas worked as a solo artist and recorded the LPs David Clayton-Thomas and the Magnificent Sanctuary Band (Col KC-31000), Tequila Sunrise (Col KC-31700), and David Clayton-Thomas (RCA APL1-0173), and worked often in Las Vegas. He returned to Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1974 and worked with the band, through several changes in membership, until 1981. Clayton-Thomas worked with musicians such as Rob and Dave Piltch and the trumpeter Bruce Cassidy to make Nuclear Blues (MCA 3227) in 1979, and toured Europe in 1980. During the 1980s Clayton-Thomas pursued a solo career based in the US and performed with the re-formed Blood, Sweat & Tears until he moved back to Canada in 2004.
In 1996, Clayton-Thomas was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. As a solo artist Clayton-Thomas has released Blue Plate Special (1998), The Christmas Album (2001) and Aurora (2005). In 2006 David Clayton-Thomas in Concert: A Musical Biography was recorded live at the Opera House in Toronto, and was released through Justin Time Records. In the same year Clayton-Thomas released his memoirs and an accompanying solo CD, both entitled The Evergreens.
The album Blood, Sweat & Tears, which sold 1 million copies within three months of its original release in 1969, was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2002, and the song "Spinning Wheel" was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007. Clayton-Thomas was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008 and was recognized by Canada's Walk of Fame in 2010.