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Merry Clayton is an American soul and gospel singer (both solo and back-up), and an actress. She has provided a number of back-up vocal tracks to songs recorded by major performing artists during the 1960s, most notably with her duet with Mick Jagger on The Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter".
Clayton began her recording career in 1962 at the age of fourteen, singing "Who Can I Count On? (When I Can't Count On You)" as a duet with Bobby Darin on his album "You're The Reason I'm Living". A year later, she recorded the first version of "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)", although it was Betty Everett's version of the same year that reached the top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. Her early career included performances with artists including Ray Charles (as one of The Raelettes), Pearl Bailey, Phil Ochs, and Burt Bacharach. (She is often credited as having recorded with Elvis Presley but her name does not appear in Elvis sessionographies.) In 1971 she co-wrote the song "Sho' Nuff", which is about her mother. She contributed vocals to Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's 1968 film Performance.
Clayton also sang backup on several tracks from Neil Young's debut album Neil Young, originally released in 1968. She is best known for her 1969 performance in a duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter". (Originally, the Stones had intended to have Bonnie Bramlett sing, but Bramlett was not available, possibly because of illness.) Clayton also sang backing vocals on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama". Also, early in her career, Clayton sang backup vocals for Tom Jones, Joe Cocker ("Feelin' Alright") and Carole King. She also originated the role of the Acid Queen in the original 1972 London production of The Who's Tommy.
Gimme Shelter (1970) : 01. Country Road 02. Tell All The People 03. Bridge Over Troubled Water 04. I've Got Life 05. Gimme Shelter 06. Here Come Those Heartaches Again 07. Forget It I Got It 08. You've Been Acting Strange 09. I Ain't Gonna Worry My Life Away 10. Good Girls 11. Glad Tidings
Merry Clayton (1971) : 01. Southern Man 02. Walk On In 03. After All This Time 04. Love Me Or Let Me Be Lonely 05. A Song For You 06. Sho' Nuff 07. Steamroller 08. Same Old Story 09. Light On The Hill 10. Grandma's Hands 11. Whatever
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