Blood, Sweat and Tears
 review by 
Lynn Fenske

Blood, Sweat and Tears 
by David Clayton Thomas
Penguin Group (Canada)

Lynn Fenske
Toronto Books Examiner
September 16, 2010
There’s a lot about David Clayton-Thomas that will impress you, besides his rich, raspy voice.

As a kid growing up in Toronto, he overcame an abusive father, jail time and living homeless on the streets to become one of the most recognizable singer-songwriters of the boomer generation. As the former lead singer of Blood Sweat and Tears he is arguably one of the ten best vocalists ever to front a pop-rock band. To date his music has sold over forty million records.

He belts out a song with a soulful, bluesy rendering that comes from living life hard and fast. It’s a voice born of anguish and boredom in a solitary jail cell and enriched on the road, working seedy strip bars and cavernous concert arenas.

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. From the Yonge Street Strip to Woodstock, to Vegas and back to Toronto, he recounts his many adventures as a rock star troubadour.

Clayton-Thomas delivers on his promise to write as “nakedly honest” as possible. He prepares readers with a very frank introduction that sets the tone for his insights and confessions. He writes, “there are no good guys or bad guys in this story. I’m sure that the recollections of some of the people I write about will differ from mine and that’s just how it is. I’ve learned that very few of us are one thing or another. We are all heroes and villains in the play of our lives – it all depends on which act we are watching and who is writing the script. This is my story.” His author’s voice is much like the lyrics to his songs – intuitive, direct and genuine.

After four decades on the road, Clayton-Thomas has stopped touring and has settled down in his hometown of Toronto. He writes, “now that I’m no longer financially dependent on the music business I have the luxury of taking on projects for the pure joy of it.” He will play the occasional gig – something special that really appeals to him, like his concert earlier this year with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall.

He still writes and records music. His new CD entitled Soul Ballads is a collection of soulful ballads by Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke – songs that he sang forty years ago in the Yonge Street clubs. It will be released October 5.

On October 16 Clayton-Thomas will be honoured as one of the latest inductees to Canada’s Walk of Fame. 

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