Me and Roy

About Roy, myself, and this site…

My name is Guy Merritt and I met Roy Clayborne in Houston, Texas in 1982 (actually, I need to check some records – it could have been 1983). All I can tell you is this: Roy Clayborne was bigger than life. When he walked into a room, or, a casino people stopped what they were doing and looked – and looked some more. He had an extraordinary presence. It’s difficult to describe. To use a phrase that Roy used virtually all the time, “you just had to be there” to really understand it…

One evening, at a nightclub overflowing with Roy Clayborne fans, I became his piano player after sitting in and playing one of his shows (that’s a crazy story, itself – more about that, later).
I actually started playing keyboards (organ and piano) professionally when I was only fourteen-years old. I’ve worked with a lot of great singers and front people. But in my life Roy Clayborne was the most extraordinary entertainer, and, the biggest character I’ve ever known…..

I’m getting older, now, and I am becoming more and more reflective. I think a lot about my own mortality (I’ve been having some health issues) and I often think of the fun I had working with Roy – it was one of the greatest times of my life. So this site is both a tribute, and, a thank you.

Roy told me, on numerous occasions, that I was the best piano player he’d ever had – I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I loved his talent and I loved the man like a brother.

10 thoughts on “Me and Roy

  1. I don’t know what made me think of Roy and Libby. I last saw them after a performance at the Sahara in Tucson AZ. Roy and Libby would usually eat after shows at the El Minuto Cafe. At the time I was married to the owner’s son. I always looked forward to seeing Roy’s shows at the Sahara, he was a vibrant performer. Beautiful Libby was always at his side. I remember the night he informed us that he was going to Las Vegas I was happy for him but sad at the same time as I would miss them. I decided to google search not sure why and was deeply saddened to read of Roy and Libby’s passing. At the same time I was happy to see that Taylor is following his dad’s interest. Taylor I want to tell you that both your parents were wonderful and beautiful and that I was fortunate to have known them.

  2. hello, My name is Kathy Clayborne. I was married to Roy’s brother Johnny Clayborne. I ran the spotlight at the Sahahra. I also traveled with the Roy Clayborne band. I really loved it when we played in Vegas. I was deeply sadden when I heard the news about Roy’s passing. Johnny and I have 3 kids together. They really never knew thier uncle Roy but I have shared alot of Roy’s VHS tapes with my kids. I’ve also shared many stories of Roy about that Roy was one of the most happiest, fun, outgoing, honest and most positive person I ever knew. Roy and Libby are deeply loved and missed. I’ll never forget Roy Clayborne. He is and forever will be missed and loved.

    1. Just uploaded Roy work on CHALET If anyone is interested on hear the songs are in YOUTUBE

      Thank’s

      R.I.P Roy Clayrbone

  3. My parents used to loooove to go dance to Roy’s music at 2 different hotels in Tucson back in the 70’s, but we can’t remember the hotels he sang at. Any help???

    1. Roy sang at The Hilton and one other big hotel which was locally owned. The Shows were played in the Large Room which was named “Roy’s Room”. Those were the days.
      I managed Roy at that time. He was one of the finest entertainers alive in those days. I took him to Nashville and they were blown away but he was just ahead of his time and they didn’t know what to do with him. He would do great now as Country integrates a lot of Rock, Southern Rock and Blues.

  4. Roy scooped up my big brother, Steve Hardin, soon after high school. They headed out on the road and my father flew the family to Crete, IL for Thanksgiving, beloved grandmother, Muh, Myrtle Urban in the entourage. Daddy bought dinner for the whole band, and maybe everybody in the hotel as it was not a popular venue for Thanksgiving weekend, the industrial zone outside Chicago. A family photo of that event exists, but no digital images of the banquet.I was about 19 at that time.

    Jump forward about seven years and my best friend and I were trickin’ our science requirement credits at University of Tulsa by camping trip in the Southwest, in January?! After ten days in the van and sleeping under the stars Dana and I pitched a fit demanding we get dropped off at a hotel so we could shower and sleep in beds for ONE night during our 3.5 weeks of service to science. Serendipity prevailed and the Tucson hotel was nice and Roy was headlining in the Performance Center.

    Mentioning Steve Hardin’s name comped our tickets and Roy bought our dinners and all our drinks. He had great admiration for my brother and a great sense of the way to treat “family”. That’s how I’ll always feel about Roy.

    On that trip Steve discovered Waylon Jennings and made sure I knew that that cat knew which end was up and what was important in life. Steve always did that for me, but Grace in life is the fact that Steve became best friends with Waylon. Dream big, live big! To this day I have Waylon’s album, “Good Hearted Woman” on my kitchen bar between kitchen and the rest of the house. He’s like the spirit that somebody’s gonna have to deal with when they’re in my home. Who needs a gun when ya got soul power on your side?

    I am truly sorry to hear of Roy’s passing. I’m sure if he wasn’t there to greet my brother Steve, Steve was there to greet him. Life is poetry and Beautiful, and if you don’t think so, go camping!

  5. I remember the shows at the Sahara in Tucson. We went just about every weekend and I remember wining a dance contest one night and a case of beer. I loved his song Tucson you must a been Arizona’s favorite child. We would all wait for his rendition of Malaguena Salerosa. I was watching an episode of arrow and heard the name and started to thinking about the shoes. I moved from Tucson and the last I heard of him He was at the stardust in Vegas But not sure if that was right or not. I just know he was a great singer showman…

  6. I’m still trying to get in touch with Johnny Clayborne. If anyone knows his number either email it to me or call him and ask him to give me a call at 210-237-1264. My name is Ray Rodriguez and Roy, Johnny and I date way back to the time when he began playing in Tucson. We made a number of trips to Nashville together and I have some stuff we recorded there than probably nobody’s ever heard.
    Thanks

  7. My name is Lawrence D’Antonio and in 1975 I was a college student at the University of Arizona. I got a call from a man that I had worked for many years earlier by the name of Lou Marconi who asked me if I would work for him again. He took me up to a small motel on north oracle road that had a small lounge that was packed with people to see the new entertainer who would be headlining his showclub at the Sahara Hotel in Tucson I was stunned how talented and loved this man was by the name of Roy Clayborne. What was my new job? Keep Roy happy. get him whatever he needed or wanted. Lou was not going to loose this guy. He was Elvis, Dean Martin and Johnny Cash all in one. Everyone knew he was going to make it big and the sahara was the hotest place in Tucson for nearly two years. I was Roys boy, but I can’t tell you how kind he wad to me and always happy to see me and tell me what was going on. Libby was one of the most beautiful women who walked the earth. I took many a punch from jealous husbands whose wives were climbing all over Roy in between sets. One day I got an emergency call to meet Roy in a bathroom. He used to drive a convertible and he was sobbing. In his hands were clumps of his hair. It was falling out from just touching it and the drive down had left bald spots. as he tried to comb it, more just kept coming out. His sister in law shaved his head before the show. Roy did make it big, real big. Most people don’t know the song he wrote and ended up being recorded by another man named Roy. His agent Louie Lafredo sold him out. I was with Roy when he wrote it. We all knew we were going to loose Roy to stardom from the song. It was called “Not my Country Clover”. It was my worst days working for Roy at that time because he had a nervous breakdown that they stole the song. I held this very kind man in my arms while he sobbed many times. It was released under another name…”a different kind of flower”. Thanks Roy for being like a father to me. You always dreamed of making it big and a few of us know you did it.

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