Merry Clayton, perhaps best known as the powerful vocalist whose signature line in the Rolling Stones’ classic “Gimme Shelter” is one of rock music’s most recognizable musical interludes, is recovering this weekend. Clayton was in a serious car accident on Monday.
Merry gained a new audience after the release of last year’s celebrated documentary, Twenty Feet From Stardom, which profiled the careers of backup artists to rock icons of the 1960s and 1970s. Among the most memorable scenes from that film was Clayton’s remembrance of when she recorded “Shelter,” called into the studio in the middle of the night. She was pregnant, came to the gig in her pyjamas and with her hair in curlers.
Mick Jagger, also interviewed for the film, seems visibly emotional as he listens to the isolated track of Clayton’s voice on “Gimme Shelter.” Check out the video below.
News of the accident was made public Friday on Clayton’s official website:
“It is with deep regret, but also deep gratitude, that we announce the following about our beloved Merry Clayton. At approximately 3:30 pm Monday, June 16, 2014, Merry was involved in a major automobile accident in Los Angeles, California. Merry sustained severe injuries to her lower body, including major trauma to her lower extremities. We are truly grateful that our dear Merry is still with us.”
In addition to her work with the Rolling Stones, Clayton also performed with rock royalty such as Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and Michael Jackson. She had a solo career as well, releasing three albums of her own.
To recall the impact Clayton had on the history of rock, check out this clip from Stardom:
Twenty Feet From Stardom, which featured not only Clayton but fellow veterans Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, and Tata Vega, told the often hidden story about extremely talented figures who do not have the name recognition of those with whom they perform.
Clayton told The Advocate at the time of the film’s release how much it excited her to see her story, and those of her fellow artists, on film:
“When I saw that film I almost went through the roof… From the first bar, it was just incredible. It’s been a blessing to be involved in such a beautiful, honest film.”
Clayton’s manager, Alan Abrahams, was praising her spirit and drive this week. As reported by The Advocate, Abrahams said, “She is beyond feisty. She will be singing again. Her fortitude and her faith and her spirit is such that she’s bloodied but not bowed.” That’s news fans of Merry Clayton are delighted to hear.
[Image: Tony Kay/TheSunBreak.com]