<p>Merry Clayton was an American soul and gospel singer, best known for her duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones classic "Gimme Shelter," and her single "Yes" from the soundtrack of the h...
Soul singer Merry Clayton is facing a long recovery following a car crash in Los Angeles, according to her manager. The star, whose back-up vocal work for Ray Charles and the Rolling Stones was documented in Oscar-winning film Twenty Feet From Stardom, was left severely injured in the smash last week (ends22Jun14).
A post on Clayton's official website after the accident revealed she had suffered "major trauma to her lower extremities", and now her representative Alan Abrahams reveals the performer is staying strong despite the difficult situation.
He tells the New York Post's Page Six column that Clayton has "a long road to recovery", adding: "It's a very serious situation. She's feisty, and she's with us. She's gonna make it."
Soul/gospel singer Merry Clayton has been hospitalised after a car accident in Los Angeles. The star, whose back-up vocal work for Ray Charles and the Rolling Stones was documented in Oscar-winning film Twenty Feet From Stardom, suffered major injuries in the crash on Monday (16Jun14).
The news was announced in a post on her official website, which reads, "Merry was involved in a major automobile accident. Merry sustained severe injuries to her lower body, including major trauma to her lower extremities. We are truly grateful that our dear Merry is still with us."
No further details had been released as WENN went to press.
With the recent flurry of fascinating documentaries about underappreciated musicians that started with last year's Oscar-winning Searching For Sugar Man, you might be wondering where to start with these artists' discographies. Here's the lowdown on five artists whose stories have recently played out on the big screen.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me told the story of one of the finest bands of the 1970s, Anglophile power pop geniuses from Memphis whose career was hampered by record label incompetence and intra-band squabbles. The star-crossed Big Star Third, recorded by guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens after the rest of the band had left, is justifiably considered the band's masterpiece. But that album's inebriated darkness makes a little more sense after hearing the first two, #1 Record (the only Big Star album to feature co-founder Chris Bell) and the near-perfect Radio City. Those two are available on a single CD on Fantasy Records. Or you can get the 2009 box set Keep An Eye on the Sky (Rhino Records), a four-disc behemoth heavy on the alternate mixes, outtakes and live tracks.
One of the focal points of the joyous Twenty Feet From Stardom, Darlene Love was the secret weapon of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Literally, in some cases: The Crystals' 1962 #1 hit "He's A Rebel" was sung not by The Crystals themselves, but by Love and her group The Blossoms. The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love (Sony Legacy) gathers the finest of Love's work for Spector, including that incognito hit but not, annoyingly, her signature song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." If you're interested in The Blossoms' non-Spector work, the fantastic U.K. reissue label Ace Records hits the high points on So Much Love: A Darlene Love Anthology 1958-1968.
The other standout of Twenty Feet From Stardom, powerhouse soul goddess Merry Clayton is best known for her thundering vocals on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," which was also the title track of her 1969 solo debut album. Though that LP and its three follow-ups are all long out of print, the recently released The Best of Merry Clayton (Sony Legacy) documents these excellent pre-disco R&B discs. It also includes her other best known track, "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow," which was used as the theme for Robert Blake's '70s cop series Baretta. So both Clayton and Love were professionally connected to famous men who were later convicted for murder. Weird.
The fascinating (though, some have charged, not entirely factual) documentary Searching For Sugar Man unexpectedly revitalized the career of a man who had been one of rock's most obscure cult figures, Detroit-born singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez. An inner-city version of Bob Dylan or Phil Ochs with a soulful, haunted voice, Rodriguez released two albums in the early 1970s, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality. Several years before Searching For Sugar Man came out, the estimable reissue label Light In The Attic Records resurrected both albums in digital, CD and sumptuous vinyl editions. Both are excellent, but 1970's Cold Fact slightly gets the edge for the creepily gorgeous "Sugar Man," a paean to the neighborhood drug dealer that remains his best-known song.
The most obscure act of the lot, Death were a mid-'70s hard rock trio consisting of three teenage African-American brothers (like Rodriguez, from Detroit) whose self-released 1975 single "Politicians In My Eyes" was for years a holy grail of underground punk collectors. The brothers Hackney only recorded seven songs during the band's lifetime, all of which can be found on the 2009 compilation ...For The Whole World To See (Drag City Records). As seen in the intimate film A Band Called Death, bassist/singer Bobby Hackney's three sons have their own punk band Rough Francis, named after a short-lived pseudonym of their late uncle David Hackney, Death's guitarist. Rough Francis just self-released their debut album Maximum Soul Power.
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It's sort of ironic that the documentaries are the stars of the Sundance Film Festival but, because there are no real stars in them, they usually go ignored by the public at large. Here is a round up of some of the best that we saw during this year's festival. They probably won't be coming to a theater near you, but all of them are worth hunting down. Here are our picks for the ones you have to watch out for:
Twenty Feet from Stardom: Back Up Singers Finally Get the Spotlight
We all know the oohs and aahs that accompany our favorite songs, but most of us don't give a second thought to the background vocalists who provided them. Finally legends like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and Lisa Fischer get their due for adding all the flavor on every song from "Gimme Shelter" to "The Monster Mash," and naturally interviews with stars like Mick Jagger and Sting abound. But really this is a brooding take on talent, fame, and the desire to use one to get to the other. Each of their stories is one of struggle, but when they finally get to sing, everything else just falls away. This is a heart-rending crowd pleaser that every music fan should see. – Brian Moylan
After Tiller: Taking the Abortion Debate to a Whole New Level
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot twice in the chest while attending church. Tiller was the leading advocate for third-trimester abortions, a highly protested practice that only a few people in the country — all of whom studied under the late doctor — dare to practice. After Tiller follows these men and women, who struggle with deciding which patients to bring on all while knowing they could be murdered just like their mentor. The documentary thoroughly examines the moral complexity of third-trimester abortions and paints subjects as possessing a unique type of bravery. At screenings, Sundance added extra security after receiving threats from protests groups. This is not an issue that lives only on the movie screen. - Matt Patches
The Summit: A Horrifying Climbing Documentary Comes Out on Top
It's not very often that a documentary makes you so unsettled that you feel like you're not going to be able to make it through to the end, but hat is just what happens in this Irish documentary about the most deadly expedition to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain. Told with original footage and recreation, the scenes of people falling off the mountain and surviving avalanches is enough to give you vertigo, and the stories of human loss and survival will take an even bigger toll. – Moylan
Valentine Road: A School Slaying Guaranteed to Break Your Heart
Many people know the story of Larry King, the eighth grader who was shot by a classmate for being gay and wearing women's clothing to school. This documentary looks at Larry's life and the life of his killer, Brandon McInerney, as well as their teachers, classmates, lawyers, families, and friends to get a complete picture of what caused the murder and the toll it took on everyone involved. It's the sort of story that will make you cry from start to finish and question everything you thought you knew about justice. – Moylan
Dirty Wars: What Is Our Military Really Up To?
When President Obama announced that we had taken out Osama bin Laden, the Joint Special Operations Command became a well known military entity, praised for their contribution to the War on Terror. Before that, JSOC carried out covert assassinations and drone strikes against world citizens deemed "potentially dangerous." Dirty Wars puts investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill on a high pedestal as he traverses the world, uncovering JSOC's shrouded operations, but only because the facts he finds are so shocking. The documentary doesn't hesitate to point fingers at Obama and military figureheads in its damning examination our loose, post-9/11 rules of doing business in the Middle East. - Patches
The World According to Dick Cheney: Feeling a Little Bad for George H.W. Bush
After his eight-year run as Vice President of the United States alongside Bush Jr., even Dick Cheney's supporters were distancing themselves from the legendary politco. Through a biting one-on-one interview with the former VP, Director R.J. Cutler (The September Issue) constructs a comprehensive talking heads biography that reveals the ups and downs of Cheney's career. From alcoholism to beting booted from Yale to his amazing recruitment into the offices of Nixon and Gerald Ford, Cutler's The World According to Dick Cheney reveals the ambitious, cunning side of Cheney that helped him rise to the top and become the most influential ear-whisperer of the 21st century. Wherever you stand on the two-terms of Bush/Cheney, your opinions will be complicated by Cutler's informative doc. - Patches
Sound City: Dave Grohl's Rock Doc Makes Lots of Noise
Anyone who is anyone with a guitar and a drum kit recorded at Sound City, a famous recording studio on the outskirts of LA. Everyone from Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks to Nirvana and Rick Springfield. This is the story of the studio's rise and eventual closing which is a fascinating slice of rock history. The last act slows down considerably as direct Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, you idiot) talks about saving the recording equipment from the studio and getting together Trent Reznor, Paul McCartney, Nicks, and others to record new songs on the old technology. – Moylan
Stories We Tell: A Heartbreaking Family Saga Like Nothing You've Ever Seen
There isn't really a category for director Sarah Polley's story of her family. Five years in the making, she interviewed her siblings and father about her mother's death from cancer when she was only 10 years old. It seems like it would be some awful narcissistic exploration, but thanks to the secrets her mother left behind, which are deftly revealed to the audience, it's a nail biter about the lies we tell to each other and the stories we tell that shape who we are.
Life According to Sam: A Real Life 'Jack' Won't Let Disease Keep Him Down
Out of the entire world population, approximately 250 people have Progeria. The disease accelerates aging, turning normal 14-year-old kids into 74-year-olds. There is no cure or even a treatment. When Leslie and Scott Berns discovered their son Sam had Progeria, they turned to doctors for help. The medical world came back empty handed. Instead of waiting for their child to die, the two sprung into action, starting the first research and testing initiative to find answers for Progeria. HBO's Life According to Sam manages to inspire in two distinct ways: Leslie's on-going quest to save both her son and the Progeria patients around the world through FDA approved drugs, and Sam's own existence, a battle to ignore his disease and live a normal middle schooler life. Both story lines will bring tears (of joy) to your eyes. - Patches
Who Is Dayani Crystal?: Humanizing America's Immigration Problem
The answer to the question of the title is revealed pretty quickly as co-director Gael García Bernal reenacts the journey that a Hondouran immigrant made through the Arizona desert to try to make it to the U.S. This is spliced together with the American authorities trying to determine the indentity of his body after it is found under a tree in the desert and his family remembering his life and his desire to get to America to make money from his family. Scattered and slow and not quite sure what it wants to be, the documentary sets out to put a face to the immigrants that come to this country and it achieves that goal spectacularly. – Moylan
99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film: They're Not So Aimless After All
We went in depth to the riveting, crowdsourced documentary earlier this week, but the film's shocking imagery and call-to-arms message continues to haunt our memories. Interviewing everyone from OWS members to political analysts to struggling citizens of the United States completely removed from the protest movement, 99% digs to deep to find the true message of Occupy and put naysayers to rest. - Patches
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer: Russia's Most Famous Band Goes on Trial
Anyone who followed the story of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist activist punk band that was imprisoned for performing in a Moscow church, will know just about everything already in this film. While it delves into the case and the fascinating politics that spurned it more deeply than the average news article, it doesn't offer any synthesis or observation beyond the factual. It's a good story but this documentary doesn't quite achieve greatness. – MoylanKink: A Walk on Porn's Wild Side
If you don't know what it is, don't go searching Kink.com right now. Wait until you're alone or at a computer where no one will mind that you're looking at porn. This look inside the world's leading purveyor of dominant/submissive and sadio/masochistic porn is sexually graphic, but is at its best when it's showing you that it is an average work place just like any other, but with a bunch of absurd problems that no one else would experience at their jobs. It's about 30 minutes too long (and only a 90 minute film) but if it were trimmed down for HBO (after midnight, of course) it would be a thrilling and titillating slice of life that many are curious about but few get to see. – Moylan
[Photo Credit: Cutler Productions]
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<p>Merry Clayton was an American soul and gospel singer, best known for her duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones classic "Gimme Shelter," and her single "Yes" from the soundtrack of the hit 1987 movie, "Dirty Dancing. " Clayton was born Christmas Day 1948 in the Gert Town neighborhood of New Orleans. While other girls her age were off chasing boys, Clayton quickly raced to chase her dreams of becoming a singer. She began her career at the age of fourteen in 1962 when she recorded a duet with teen heartthrob Bobby Darin called "Who Can I Count On? (When I Can't Count On You)" for his album "You're the Reason I'm Living." In the following year, Clayton recorded the first version of the hit '60s pop song, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)," although Betty Everett had the hit. Clayton's singing career took great strides afterwards when she joined Ray Charles's vocal group The Raelettes. Her stint in the Raelettes led to collaborations with other noted musicians of the time, including Pearl Bailey, Phil Ochs, Burt Bacharach and Tom Jones.</p><p>In 1969, the Rolling Stones were looking to work with a soul singer to sing a duet with Mick Jagger for one of the songs on their album <i>Let It Bleed</i>. Their original pick, Bonnie Bramlett, declined their offer because of illness; luckily for Merry Clayton, the Stones decided to offer the opportunity to her. Clayton's vocal contributions, the most prominent on a Rolling Stones track by a female vocalist, were heard alongside Jagger's during the song's iconic chorus. Her piercing notes punctuated one of the apocalyptic song's most powerful lyrics, repeatedly singing "Rape, murder; it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away" after Keith Richards' guitar-shredding solo. Clayton's emotional delivery contributed greatly to the song's dire and tempestuous tone, which became representative of the volatile Vietnam War Era. Clayton recorded her vocals while she was pregnant, and suffered a miscarriage soon after the session. This led to an urban legend that the strain caused by reaching such a high and fevered pitch was to blame for her miscarriage. The song would go one to become one of the most acclaimed rock songs of all time, with Billboard placing it at #38 on its list of "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."</p><p>Capitalizing on the success of "Gimme Shelter," Clayton embarked on her solo career. In 1970, she re-recorded her own version of the song and made it the title track of her first album. Her version of the song became her first single to crack the <i>Billboard</i> Hot 100, peaking at #73, and led to her first televised appearance as a musical guest on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" (NBC 1962-1992). Clayton released two more studio albums in 1971, <i>Celebration</i> and <i>Merry Clayton</i>. A couple of years later, Clayton provided backing vocals for another classic rock song, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama." She continued to release solo studio albums throughout the '70s, including <i>Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow</i> in 1975 and <i>Emotion</i> in 1979. Although the '70s were her busiest decade in terms of releasing music, Clayton released her biggest hit when she recorded the song "Yes" for the movie "Dirty Dancing" in 1987. Due to the huge success of the movie, "Yes" peaked in the <i>Billboard</i> Top 100 at #45 in 1988. In the late '80s, Clayton tried her hand at acting when she took on the role of Audrey James in the romantic comedy "Maid to Order" (1987). Meanwhile, she landed a recurring role in the popular police procedural drama "Cagney & Lacey" (CBS 1981-88) as Verna Dee Jordan, a role she would later reprise in the made-for-TV movie, "Cagney & Lacey: The Return" (1994). In 2000, Clayton was cast in another TV movie, "A Private Affair." In 2013, Clayton was introduced to a new audience via the critically-acclaimed documentary "20 Feet From Stardom." The success of this film led to a compilation CD called <i>The Best of Merry Clayton</i>, featuring tracks from her classic 1970s albums.</p>