About Roy

To his fans, a star as big as any other

Though Roy Clayborne never achieved the fame of some other entertainers, I think it’s fair to say that he came within inches of making his name known around the world. They say that timing is everything, and, Roy had some unlucky breaks. And, as I’ve said elsewhwere on this site, for many of the people who saw him perform, Roy was absolutely a superstar. He could hold an audience spellbound, mixing his patented brand of goofy comedy with things like his dramatic, show-closing rendition of the guitar classic “Malaguena” (which almost always recieved a standing ovation). Standing ovations feel good for an entertainer – and I had never been on the recieving end of too many standing ovations….until I worked with Roy Clayborne. Thanks Roy – man, it was fun…..

I’ll never forget playing with Roy at The Ramada Inn West in Houston. On most weekends, sitting front and center for our show, was one of the long-haired – and long-bearded dudes – from ZZTop (I can never remember which one of those guys is which!). The guy would show up in his hot-rod, with security all around him, and enjoy our show – well, Roy’s show! It was fun to be entertaining people like ZZTop. I really never could recall which one of those guys it was…..I believe his name was Dusty Hill. Anyway, whichever one it was, he was a huge Roy Clayborne fan. Too, there were few country superstars who weren’t aquainted with Roy, in one way or another – Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, the Judds, and on and on….

Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Actor

Though Roy’s career carried him all over the globe, he was best known by audiences in the United States for his musical performances in:

  • Houston, Texas
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Tuscon, Arizona
  • Nashville, Tennessee..and
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

However, a lot of folks don’t know that Roy also did some acting. He had small roles on both Gunsmoke and Petrocelli. He also appeared, as a musical, guest on the long-running NBC hit, “The Tonight Show“.


Roy had numerous regional hits, as a recording artist, in the Southwest United States. He wrote many of the songs he recorded, and co-wrote “Put Me On a Train Back To Texas” with Jim Hurt and Billy Nelson (Willie Nelson’s son). “Put Me On a Train Back to Texas” was covered by numerous artists, including Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. I hope to eventually provide a discography and more information, here. This entire site is a work in progress.

Roy’s Untimely passing

Roy passed away, in 1996, at the age of 50. According to his booking agent, Dan Sawyer of Las Vegas, he was playing a gig in Germany and had a heart attack in his hotel room. Sadly, it was on of those “big ones” that, well, you have it and your gone. Before going to Germany he’d talked with his doctor in Las Vegas about having some chest discomfort. He planned on having it checked out when he came back to the states. Sadly, that just wasn’t in the stars……
While Roy had some huge successes and flirtations with serious fame, real national recognition was something which always eluded him. He had tremendous ambition in that regard and I know that, as the years wore on, he was increasingly frustrated with his inability to really “break through” on a broader scale. Nonetheless, for a lot of people – myself included – Roy was born a star. Nothing can change that….

Biographical Information
This is an area where I need some help. I know that Roy was married to Elizabeth Clayborne and had a son named Taylor. His career kept him from maintaining anything on the order of a standard home life; he was “on the road” virtually all the time. Roy wasn’t your typical family man due to the demands of his career.
He spoke often of his son and, sadly, I was doing a Google search for info on Roy and saw that his wife had died only a year or so after Roy (at a very young age).

Roy, if I recall correctly, had two sisters and one brother. His brother, John (we called him “Johnnie”) traveled with us as our sound and light man. Roy’s father was Irish and his mother was Mexican. It seems as though a lot of people aren’t aware of Roy’s hispanic heritage.

35 thoughts on “About Roy

  1. Roy clayborne my brother was a good man he was always when you need him no questions and dident want a return my Roy and my daughter miss him so much I still get sad for him Roy died on May 15 1996 he was n Germany making a album with U Two when didn’t feel welllayes down for a nap he woke up tried to stand up but fell onto the carpet he motioned that he wanted his nittro to his then girllfriend she went then brought them to Roy as he is laying there looking up at she stood there shaking the bottle at him teasing him she let him die I’m so heart broken I did a lot when I found out how he died this is very hard for me to write this I said it befoe we miss him so much the part about his body his brother his excutor had to decide how to get his body here to Tucson to send his body it would cost his brother $8,ooo to send his ashes cost only $3,000 his brother had to buy back his silver belt and gitar from the girlfriend so that his son could have a year later “ibby his ex wife died in her sleep because she had lupis she blamed herself for not taking him when he weent to Libby to ask her to take him back she belived he would still be alive if he had triple or quaddruple heart surgey “ibby was a good friend to me she was genorus with giving me clothes a very good sister-in-law we miss her a lot. She listened gave help when needed to her parents and son Taylor I do hope you read read this so my daughter and I could get to know you Taylor is spiting image of his father looks just like Taylor we would love to hear from you All my best to you and love also for Roy and Libby love you we will never forget you

    1. Hi Johnny. Roy was terrific and I loved the brief time that I played with him in 1977. I also would like to say that you are a truly delightful man and I so enjoyed our time together Johnny. You and your brother touched my heart! Best to you
      Steve Davis

    2. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR SMOKING LADY BUT I WANT SOME OF IT, YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WENT ON THAT DAY ON HOW HE DIED THEN YOU NEED TO CONTACT ME, THE ONLY GUY THAT WAS AROUND WHEN HE DIED, AND THERE WAS NO OTHER PERSON’S EXCEPT MYSELF!!!!!

      1. Arnie,
        During a period of about 4-5 years I was Roy’s Manager while he and Libby lived in Tucson. We wrote songs together, I pitched him to labels in Nashville with demo tapes and actual mastered recordings. He was like my Brother and after I moved back to Texas we kept in touch regularly. When Johnny called and told me Roy had died of a heart attack in Germany I was truly devastated. I would like to communicate with you by email or phone even just to hear about his actual passing. I’ve heard and read a lot of BS about it but if you were there maybe you could clarify what really happened. You can email me at ray3402@aol.com.
        Thanks,
        Ray Rodriguez
        San Antonio, TX

  2. Hi I got a phone number from Taylor Clayborne and when I called that number is not working I would like to talk with you about my brother Roy Clayborne so if you can leave me a new working number that would be nice cant wait to hear from you

    1. Hey Johnny its Mike Ballard, how are you doing, I would love to talk to you sometime, give me a call 480-276-1822, Im not sure if you remember me or not, i was Roys drummer in the late 70s, hope to hear from you soon…

  3. Johnny, hope you are doing well. Don’t know if you remember me. I played bass with you and Roy at Caeser’s. The Playmate , and The Chalet. Remember when we backed Tammy Wynette? Seems like only yesterday.Got any pics of us in those awful gold curtain material suites?

  4. Johnny, Do you have any pictures of the band during the Caeser’s. Playmate Club, or Chalet Club era? Remember those horrible gold glitter coats we wore at the Chalet? Hope you are well. Heard you were in the toy business.

  5. I worked with Roy at the Mint in Las Vegas, Roy was a great person and sooooooo funny, What a voice he had,, It was a huge loss to the music world when we lost him, It brings more than just a single tear to my eyes thinking about him being gone!

    1. My name is Kathy Clayborne. I traveled with Roy Clayborne for a few years. I worked the spot light and shaved Roys head :). I married his brother Johnny Clayborne. we divorced in 1998 we had 3 kids together. Roy was a big part of my life. I enjoyed every moment that I spent with him. To this day I still think about him and talk about him. I have cassette tapes and VHS tapes of Roy that I watch and listen to all the time. I believe Taylor Clayborne his son has the urn with his dads ashes.

      1. Hey Kathy, I remember you. My name is Alan Williams. Worked with you, Johnny, & Roy in 79-80, in Tucson, Houston, Vegas, California, & Montana. I played drums. Still do.

        1. Hi Alan, I remember you to. Since Roys death and even before, I have written songs myself. Have never sang with a band but that has always been a dream of min, that some day I will have the courage to sing my songs on stage. Johnny and I had 3 kids together. We are divorced but we have remained good friends. Johnny and I still live in Tucson. I would like to talk to you some day. If you are interested, write me back. Or you can E-mail me at kathybugg61@gmail.com.

  6. Not a day goes by that I do not think about Roy. As his musical director and piano player in the 90’s I spent a lot of time with this amazing performer. We played 7 nights a week during the early 90’s in Vermont and throughout the NYC metro area.

    I mention Roy at every show now and I feel his presence with me on stage. He taught me more about music and performing than anyone or any school I attended, including Julliard. He is the reason I am now an awesome front man, I still do some of his schtick in my shows. I have some recordings which I am in the process of transferring from tape to MP3 and will share as soon as able.

    God bless Roy Clayborne and he lives on in me and my music. Thanks for the time we had my mentor and friend. Feel free to contact me, I have some photos and will have some music as well. stevieg@q.com

    1. Hi Steve,
      Laura Molinelli here. I was just talking about our time with Roy in Manchester yesterday.
      He was fabulous.

  7. Me and my wife plus my close friends used to follow Roy around to his shows in Tucson. the greatest entertainer I have seen personally. When he put on his show nobody danced the people were in a spell waiting for Roy to do the next great thing! He could do Elvis perfect plus other stars. Some of the best times of my life. He was a sexy good looking star with singing and playing and funny, he drove the women crazy. Men wanted to be him. Roy put on a tremendous exciting show start to finish. I hated when the show ended just couldn’t get enough. I moved back home to Amarillo tx. And we got to see him one last time in the 80’s. he remembered us and invited us back stage and gave us a signed record of his latest ” little boys lie”. Who never got to see him missed the greatest show of their lives. Miss him, haven’t seen anyone with that kind of talent since. He would have won all the talent shows on tv like America idol, none of those came close to his talent or voice. Thanks Roy! Curtis ritchie

  8. I played harmonica with Roy for about a year in the the 90’s along with Laura Mollinelli and Steve Grandinetti towards the end. He always got the crowd jumping! Playing 6 nights a week to a packed house here in Vt is quite a feat. Remember sleeping in the van in NY while showcasing for a possible deal with Cyndy Laupper . He was always the optimist, waiting for that big break. They were fun times. Certainly improved my chops playing that steadily.

  9. Hi,
    Just came across this site. I miss Roy.There are no words that describe how hard it is to lose someone who cares about you. We became great friends in vermont. I saw Roy every day from 1992 until the day before he left for Germany. He had just left the hospital in Bennington Vt. and came to see me, told me they wanted to keep him and do heart surgery. He said he would have it when he got back. I tried to talk him out of going but he was sure this was the break he was looking for.
    Roy and I would dance around the store and he would play his guitar and sing on our back porch.
    He was a good friend to my husband and me.
    Memories are our smiles and I smile a lot when I think of Roy.
    Lois

  10. I was Roy Clayborne and the alamo’s agent slash manager from the late 1970s to 1980. The Alamo at that time was Loretta Hill, Alan Williams, Kenny rice, and Roy Clayborne. I had a lot of fun. We traveled from Arizona to Nevada to Montana Texas just all over. What I enjoy the most was when we went to Las Vegas and play with the Aladdin, when we went to Kalispell Montana when they were filming Heaven’s Gate and we played with the musicians from Rita Coolidge’s and Kris Kristofferson bands. Doing The Tonight Show George Carlin was the guest host. We also did an HBO special with Brenda Carlin who was the producer for HBO. Just had a great time with the people who travel with. Roy was a great Entertainer and a great Showman.

  11. I would like to know the name of the TV show that Roy sang Jerry Lee Lewis hit Great Balls of Fire. I know that Rich Little was the MC. Can anyone help. I am wondering if it might be on a DVD. He sang several songs. He was an incredibly gifted performer.

  12. Kenny Rice here. I played keys for Roy in 78 & 81-82. I just discovered this website. Hi Johnny, hi Alan, hi Stu. I was sorry to hear of Roy’s passing. How’s the rest of you fellas doing? I am (of course) still playing music. Are you all on Facebook? I’d like to catch up with y’all.

  13. Roy and John did Wynn Stewart and me a big favor at Mr. Lucky’s in Phoenix, Arizona one night in 1973. Roy did a 15 or 20 minute show that brought the house down. John was playing drums that night. I have often thought about both of them since. The best memory I have of them is not what they did on the bandstand though. My best memory is, they were both very nice guys. Although I haven’t seen them since I’m saddened to hear that Roy has passed on.

    1. For those of you that worked with Roy in Vegas, Houston, Nashville, I know you remember Renee cothern, I just want you to know she also passed away Jan. 28 2016 from a blood clot that went straight to her heart. She was only 54. She was singing and talking with her brother Devon one minute and gone the next. I went on her facebook page “Tina Renee cothern”, and i saw her daughter natalie on there and went on her page and that is where i saw the picture of her. It said in memory of…. i used to sing with roy and renee in vegas, houston, and nashville. Treva Gentry. I was with them in the main showroom of the Landmark hotel doing the spell caster show… also we entertained at all the big casinos in vegas, also all over houston, Ramada inn North and ramada inn south, the Galeria mall..ect.. we traveled,,,toured..ect.. He and renee were excellent entertainers. I really enjoyed knowing them and singing with them.

  14. Hi Johnny,
    You may not remember me. My name is Tony Turner. I played Tenor Sax with You and Roy at South West High School befor 1968. We were in the Gym together playing for the students. This was way befor 1968. For many year after I graduated in 1968, I did try to find you all but never was able to. Johnny, I pray the Lords Blessings on You and Your Family. I was very honnered to be a small part of Your and Roy’s life. I was really taken back by what happened. Johnny Clayborne, if you can give me a call at 757-353-5727, I would love to talk with you and catch up.

  15. Hello Johnny,

    I lost you phone number right after we talked about old

    times several years back. Give me a call when and if you

    read this at 210-237-1264

    Thanks Bro,

    Ray Rodriguez
    San Antonio, TX

  16. Hi Jonny, i dont know if you remember us, my dad was Wes Nielsen, im Candy. I used to sing with Libbey, It says Libbey Libbey Libbey on the Label Label Label, you will Like it Like it Like it on the Label Label Label! I remember his Elvis act an alot of his acts. Im so sorry for your lose, My Condolences to You an Family. Take care

  17. Johnny, Hi from George Spinner, Rochester N.Y. I toured with Roy and Yourself for awhile in 1969, I played Keyboards with Bill Walker, Al and Jay Bruno on Drums, Newton Amato Newton made me responsible for keeping ROY out of trouble, hahaha, he could be wild, 2 speeding tickets in 30 mins. on the LA Expressway, I remember a truck load of clothes to the dry cleaner on several occasions, rehearsing After A Job in Thousand Oaks from 2-4 in the morning, Roy paid all my expenses, he even bought my cigarettes, Class Guy, wish he was still around to sing some of my originals, We Had So Much Fun! John, Bill, Jay, Al, if your still out there write me at jayspinner777@gmail.com

  18. I am the former girlfriend of Roy. I was in Germany with him and our drummer Arnie. I was not in the living room when Roy passed away, Arnie was. I am writing this to make clear that Roy was my soul mate. Prior to his passing, he had told me that he was not coming back to the states. He wrote a song called ” I found heaven in Heidelberg” which is where he passed away. Three days later after he passed, myself and a witness saw heaven in the sky. I also had superficial encounters of Roy. God is so awesome to have allowed me to be in Roy’s life. Over a month ago, I was on You Tube and God lead me to this video.
    https://youtu.be/DwPemXbnHrw
    If you listen to the soloist you will hear a familiar voice. Praise Jesus and thank you God! Roy never stopped believing in his dream. He humbled himself and today he is the greatest singer in all of heaven. Love and hugs always. Lorraine

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