What were you doing when you were eighteen? Yeah, don't feel bad, we all fucked around at that age. But not Joe Clay. He'd already been playing music professionally for six years, starting out in a hillbilly band at age twelve. Like a lot of his contemporaries, he got the bug, recording his first rockabilly record "Duck Tail" in 1956 at age eighteen. Later that year he would be in New York, courtesy of RCA, backed by a studio band that featured Mickey Baker on guitar (Baker was a veteran of sessions with Ray Charles, Ivory Joe Hunter, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, and Louis Jordan amongst many others, not to mention being the Mickey of Mickey and Sylvia.) Pretty heady stuff for an eighteen year old. But as was often the case back then, a controlling, greedy manager proved to be his downfall. Not only would he not release Clay from his twenty year contract, and at one point wouldn't let him play outside of New Orleans, he proved so difficult to work with that RCA backed off. To continue playing music professionally, Clay reverted to his real name Claiborne Joseph "C.J." Cheramie, just to play in local clubs. Around 1962-63, he recorded a few swamp pop singles under the pseudonym Russ Wayne. They went nowhere. So he took a job as a bus driver, and played the odd gig at night for a decade and a half. In 1986, one of those fiendish rockabilly nuts in the UK tracked him down, and yes, the story has a happy ending: a hero's welcome overseas, compilations and a comeback album in 2004. His ex-manager tops today's shit list.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
Joe Clay - Duck Tail mp3 (via DivShare*) at The Devil's Music Thank you Dick
Joe Clay - Get On the Right Track mp3 at Rocky 52 Mickey Baker on guitar!
Joe Clay - Goodbye Goodbye mp3 at Rocky 52
Joe Clay - Sixteen Chicks mp3 at The Devil's Music Go there to get it
Joe Clay - Did You Mean Jellybean (streaming) at YouTube Another one with Mickey Baker
Russ Wayne - Don't Know What To Do (streaming) at YouTube
*Note: To download the songs at The Devil's Music, once you get to DivShare, click on the green "Download" button, and scratch your head for fifteen seconds. When the button reappears, you're good to go.
Joe Clay - Bio at Rockabilly Hall of Fame