Blood, Sweat and Tears Hardcover – Sep 7 2010
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Quill & Quire
As the former frontman for the Canadian rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears, David Clayton-Thomas is no stranger to the spotlight. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and been given a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. As if that weren’t enough, Clayton-Thomas can now add memoirist to his list of accomplishments.
Clayton-Thomas opens his book with an introduction that prepares readers for a raw and honest account of his life. What follows is a highly personal and passionate description of child abuse, prison, poverty, artistic longing, and the price of success. His rise from the depths of Canada’s prison system to centre stage is an incredible story, one he relates in a voice that is sensitive and, at times, quite funny. Readers will also be drawn into the turbulent 1960s milieu, with its tales of drug binges in artists’ enclaves and shared moments with musical legends.
While the memoir succeeds on that level, however, it fails entirely on another. Throughout the book, Clayton-Thomas takes the opportunity to settle decades-old scores with family, former business partners, and current members of BS&T. While readers should never expect a memoir to be wholly objective, many of the vitriol-laced rants in this book distract from the story and leave a bitter aftertaste. The book is also laden with contradictions, as Clayton-Thomas embraces his own life choices, then vilifies others for making similar choices.
For fans of BS&T or Clayton-Thomas’s solo work, this memoir delivers the rawness and honesty that it promises. It sheds light on the darker side of the author’s life and the inspiration behind some of his music, but for casual readers, the enjoyment of the story is mitigated by the narrative’s anger and contradictions. The story of a nuanced character battling internal conflicts can make for fascinating reading, but watching Clayton-Thomas wrestle with his demons on the page is a lot less enjoyable than listening to him sing them out.
“A remarkable story of redemption…. Clayton-Thomas writes with wry humour and grace in a straightforward style that’s as subtle as a split lip. The reader always feels he’s getting the straight goods…. The book deserves to be as big a hit as ‘Spinning Wheel,’ the best song Clayton-Thomas wrote for the jazz-rock outfit Blood Sweat & Tears…. His book is honest and unflinching. It reveals a man who is tough and cynical, funny as hell, but also vulnerable and insecure. Haunted by his violent childhood, Clayton-Thomas turned himself into a music legend—a singer and songwriter above all things. That’s worth much more than a standing ovation.” - Ottawa Citizen
“David Clayton-Thomas has some skeletons in his closet, but he’s setting them all free and it feels mighty good…. A genuinely inspirational rags-to-riches story.” - Toronto Star
“Clayton-Thomas[’s] memoir shows brilliance…. What’s critical for an autobiography is, first of all, a good story and Clayton-Thomas has one, for sure.” - Winnipeg Free Press
“The David Clayton-Thomas book is an amazing roller coaster ride though the dreams and nightmares of a Canadian kid who, against all odds, became one of Canada’s greatest singer-songwriter-performers. His voice and songs are known everywhere in the world. I knew of his legend and many of the stories but to hear them first hand from his own recollections was a great read for me. David, thanks for the great story and the great music.” - Randy Bachman
“Clayton-Thomas opens his book with an introduction that prepares readers for a raw and honest account of his life. What follows is a highly personal and passionate description of child abuse, prison, poverty, artistic longing, and the price of success.” - Quill & Quire
“Terrifically entertaining…. Clayton-Thomas is a natural storyteller, and Blood, Sweat and Tears is a true page-turner of the rock and roll bio variety.” - See Magazine
“There’s a lot about David Clayton-Thomas that will impress you, besides his rich, raspy voice…. In his memoir, aptly titled Blood, Sweat and Tears, he shares his personal history that reflects and defines a distinctive era in music and pop culture. His is a true rags to riches story…. Clayton-Thomas delivers on his promise to write as “nakedly honest” as possible…. His author’s voice is much like the lyrics to his songs—intuitive, direct and genuine.” - Toronto Books Examiner
Top Customer Reviews
Determined to make it big, he moved to New York where he joined up with Blood Sweat and Tears, and rocketed into international stardom. While I was never a big fan of their big band jazz style of music, I was still riveted by the book's description of the ongoing roller-coaster ride of successes and travails they experienced, and the quest of DCT to find sanity in the midst of mayhem. This book was a real page turner for me - completely absorbing. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the music of that era.
A concert I will never forget as the musicianship led by this fantastic new voice was just beyond anything I had experienced. Thus I became a fan that night and have followed David's career ever since.
This book says it all. Anyone who lived though this wonderful musical era will thoroughly enjoy his story. The first part is an amazing review of his early life and reveals it all. David doesn't hold back! Then there is the interesting section of how he joined BS&T and those years of popularity.
Next..on to his solo journey. I remember seeing him on a Thanksgiving night with a small band in 1983 before about 50 people. It was actually the first time I had met him. He had chosen a rough path just to get his own music out there. He was playing tunes from his Home Fires demos and a BS&T medley to appease the crowd. This part of his story is an interesting part of the book. From playing Woodstock to a crappy club in Rochester was quite the change.
He then later talks about his rejoining BS&T and the many years of running his touring band. He discusses in detail about his life on the road and the many talented musicians that weaved in and out of the band. After his retirement from BS&T in 2004 he writes about the contentment he has found once again as a solo artist and now just an occasional performance at select venues.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed this era of music. It is well written and the story compelling, thus making the pages turn quickly.
The rags-to-riches portion of the travelogue is disturbing and begs the question, "How in the hell did this guy ever amount to anything?" Born in Surrey, England, the child of a war bride, and raised in Willowdale in north Toronto, Clayton-Thomas portrays his father, Fred Thomsett, as a bitter, maniacal and violent WWII veteran, whose household tyranny knew no bounds. No surprise, then, that as a juvenile Clayton-Thomas found himself sleeping in office buildings, parked cars, and the occasional detention centre. His rock bottom of Phase 1 came when a no-nonsense magistrate gave him a four-year jail term for witness intimidation, and it was off to the Big House.
As a society, we long ago - at least officially - took many of the punitive and medieval aspects out of corrections; the focus, primarily, is on hollowing out the soul. Strangely, happily, fortuitously, the reverse happened in this case as Clayton-Thomas took to song while in the pen, and the rest, as they say, is history - or at least the beginning of a history: upon his release, it was Toronto, Yorkville, Yonge Street, bars, drugs, small clubs, rubbing shoulders,and incremental successes like 1966's 'Brainwashed' - this is Phase 2.
Phase 3 is the phenomenal success of Blood, Sweat and Tears.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a must read for anyone wanting to make a living in the music business (that's not me, my mother steared me away from being in a Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour in the 60's... Read morePublished 5 months ago by R Reynolds
Fantastic book. Honestly written and brought back so many memories. Will most likely read it again down the road. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Chris J. Bell
A great read. I now have more respect for the guy who performed at a school dance back in the sixties. I had no idea of the life he had up until that time.Published on June 13 2013 by Dunk20001
Always having liked his music, David Clasyton Thomas was always an enigma. Great book An easy read while being factual and explanatoryPublished on Dec 30 2012 by Mel Stark