David Clayton-Thomas began his amazing journey as a homeless street kid and developed into one of the most recognizable singer/songwriters in the world, to date selling over 40 million records. In 1996, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
His 1968 debut album with Blood Sweat & Tears sold 10 million copies worldwide. The self-titled record topped the Billboard album chart for seven weeks, charted for a staggering 109 weeks and won an unprecedented five Grammy awards.
He was born David Henry Thomsett in Surrey, England, on Sept, 13, 1941. His father Fred Thomsett, was a Canadian soldier, his mother Freda, a British music student. After the war, the family settled in Willowdale, a suburb of Toronto. A tough, angry street kid with a hair-trigger temper, it wasn't long before David ran afoul of the law.
After teaching himself to play the guitar, David was singing and playing at jailhouse concerts. The legendary Ronnie Hawkins took him under his wing shortly after his release and it wasn't long before David was fronting his own bands. The first was called David Clayton-Thomas and The Fabulous Shays. By this time David had changed his name to distance himself from his troubled teenage years.
In 1964 The Shays travelled to New York City to appear on NBC-TV's Hullabaloo at the invitation of its host, fellow Canadian Paul Anka. After his return to Toronto, David's bar band soon drifted away, which led to his next band, The Bossmen. In 1966, he wrote an explosive anti-war song Brainwashed. It rocketed to number one nationally and dominated the Canadian charts for sixteen weeks.