born in in New Orleans, LA, United States
Sam Clayton has been a singer and percussionist, primarily focusing on drums; conga and djembe, throughout his musical career. He is best known for his membership as percussionist and supporting vocalist with the American rock band Little Feat since 1972.
As a young man, he was influenced by R&B music, and gospel music. After seeing Lester Horton and the modern dancers, "Zapata", he was enthralled by seeing the conga player. However, it wasn't until a chance opportunity to sit in with a house band for a song on the congas at a farewell dinner, just as he was laid off from his employment in electro-mechanical engineering drafting, that Clayton was offered the chance to join a band and play. Clayton played for a short time with Little Richard, and says he was inspired by "what Mongo Santamaría was doing with Cal Tjader".
Clayton was introduced to Little Feat, an eclectic band drenched in Southern rhythms, funk, and alternative rock, by his friend Kenny Gradney with whom he had played behind Delaney & Bonnie, and who was to replace original bassist Roy Estrada. Gradney recommended Clayton to the band as he knew both men needed work following Delaney & Bonnie's split up following their divorce.
Sam made his debut with Little Feat on their third album Dixie Chicken in 1973. He also played congas on Bonnie Raitt's 1977 song, "Sweet Forgiveness", on her album of the same name. As time went on, his vocal talents as well as his percussion came to the fore, which gave the band a funkier sound. Although he rarely sang lead vocals, his scat-influenced bass vocals were strongly in evidence on tracks like "Rock 'n' Roll Doctor" from Feats Don't Fail Me Now. His first lead vocal with the group was "Feel The Groove" from Down on the Farm in 1979 but the band broke up shortly afterwards and the subsequent death of founder Lowell George meant they did not reform until 1988.
When Little Feat re-grouped Sam's voice became even more evident on songs like "The Ingenue" (from Representing the Mambo) and "Romance Without Finance" and "That's A Pretty Good Love" (from Ain't Had Enough Fun). He also sings the Lowell George classic "Spanish Moon" at Little Feat's live shows.
Sam Clayton is also a respected session musician and has played with, among others Duane Allman, Jimmy Barnes, Jimmy Buffett, Valerie Carter, Freddie King, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger and Travis Tritt. He is the brother of singer Merry Clayton.
- 1.0 1.1 Band Bios: Sam Clayton. Official Little Feat Website. Little Feat copyright (2009). Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. [Sam Clayton at All Music Guide Biography Little Feat]. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2009-07-04.
For a complete sessionography check out the official Little Feat website
Paul Barrere ·
Richie Hayward ·
Kenny Gradney ·
Bill Payne ·
Sam Clayton ·
Lowell George · Roy Estrada · Craig Fuller
Little Feat ·Sailin' Shoes · Dixie Chicken · Feats Don't Fail Me Now · The Last Record Album · Time Loves a Hero · Down on the Farm · Let It Roll · Representing the Mambo · Shake Me Up · Ain't Had Enough Fun · Under the Radar · Chinese Work Songs · Kickin' It at the Barn
Waiting for Columbus ·Live from Neon Park · Extended Versions · Late Night Truck Stop · Live at the Rams Head · Down upon the Suwannee River · Highwire Act Live in St. Louis 2003 · Barnstormin' Live · Rocky Mountain Jam
Hoy-Hoy! ·As Time Goes By: The Very Best of Little Feat · Hotcakes & Outtakes: 30 Years Of Little Feat · Ripe Tomatos · The Essentials · The Best of Little Feat
Rockpalast Live ·High Wire Act Live In St. Louis 2003 · Little Feat & Friends in Jamaica - Burgers & Paradise