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….
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.