Joe Clay, American rockabilly musician, Died at 78


Claiborne Joseph Cheramie was born on September 9, 1938, in Harvey, Louisiana, and died on September 26, 2016.

He was better known by his stage name Joe Clay.

He was an American rockabilly musician from Gretna, Louisiana, United States.

His parents encouraged an early interest in country music and at the age of 12, he was already a competent drummer, later also learning rhythm guitar and electric bass.

He started performing at that age in a country band, who were offered a spot performing on the local radio station WWEZ. RCA subsidiary Vik Records signed him a few years later, while he was still in his teens; he recorded in New York with guitarists Mickey Baker and Skeeter Best, bassist Leonard Gaskin, and drummers Bobby Donaldson and Joe Marshall.

Joe Clay drove a school bus for 15 years in the New Orleans area.

In 1955 his local reputation enabled him to play the prestigious Louisiana Hayride out of Shreveport where he shared billing with the newly emerging Elvis Presley.”

Also, the source mentioned he filled in as a drummer for Presley when he played Pontchartrain Amusement Park in New Orleans, when D.J. Fontana could not make the gig.

During 1956, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a few months before Elvis Presley performed thereon, and Clay played a cover of The Platters’ hit “Only You (And You Alone)”.

He would later play guitar on some of Presley’s recordings, but his manager would not let him tour outside the New Orleans area, and he never scored a hit.

After being dropped from RCA, he continued performing in New Orleans for over 30 years.

Duering the 1980s, the rockabilly revival in Europe resulted in renewed interest in Clay; he then toured England in 1986.

During 2008, Joe Clay appeared in an award-winning Canadian documentary entitled Rockabilly 514, directed by Patricia Chica and Mike Wafer.

Clay spoke about his early beginnings as a rockabilly musician in the 1950s and his fascination for the new generation of rockabilly kids.

He was also seen performing live his single “Sixteen Chicks” among an enthusiastic crowd of young rockabilly fans.

Joe Clay passed away at 78 years old.