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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Francis Clay RIP

Illinois blues, Bob Corritore, and Hawkeye Herman are all reporting the death of Francis Clay. Information is below.

Francis Clay

From: The Bob Corritore Blues Newsletter

From: Michael "Hawkeye" Herman

  • Francis Clay Born 11/16/23, Rock Island, IL - Died. 1/22/08, San Francisco, CA

    Blues legend Francis Clay, former long-time Muddy Waters drummer, played with a who's who of Jazz and R&B icons, including Charlie Parker, Jay McShann, Billy Holiday, Little Walter, Lightnin Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Spann, Big Mama Thornton, and James Cotton (who started the original James Cotton Blues Band with Clay in 1966). Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones raved about watching Francis play back in the 1960s with Muddy, saying, "Clay was one of the most exciting drummers he'd ever seen and heard."

    Francis Clay was a kind, intelligent, gentle man, super musician, extraordinary poet/writer ... and a longtime friend ... to many. I was honored to have been in the wide circle of people who knew and loved Francis Clay. Although from different eras, Francis and I are 'homeboys' ... we were both raised up in the same town on the Mississippi River in Western Illinois, Rock Island ... those decades in age between us didn't separate us as good friends ... and I was honored to have presented the River Road Lifetime Achievement Award to Francis at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival a few years ago ... in our home area ... and the icing on the cake was being asked by Francis a few weeks before the presentation ... if I would please put together a seven-piece blues band featuring Midwest/regional 'all-stars' to perform with him at the festival. It was a grand day. The crowd was huge, and included many of Francis's hometown relatives ... he was most gracious as we acknowledged his contributions to the blues and the Universe with the award presentation. The mayor of Davenport, IA presented him with the key to the city. Francis smiled broadly as we played our short set ... that included the jazz instrumental, "Caravan," ... yes, with Francis taking a superb extended drum solo. Francis was very happy.

    That is how I will remember him. R.I.P. Francis Clay

    In Fond Memory,

    Michael "Hawkeye" Herman -

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