Across the world, fans, music experts, and music historians cite the Rolling Stone's song, Gimme Shelter, as their greatest hit. It was their breakout moment -- the song that sent the band toward stardom. The same fans, experts, and historians also argue that it was Merry Clayton's vocals that made Gimmie Shelter the hit that made the band.
The Black Women Behind Rock and Roll - The impact of African American female musicians played a large roll in forming the sounds of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Rock n' Roll itself.
Mick Jagger Tells the Story Behind ‘Gimme Shelter’ and Merry Clayton’s Haunting Background Vocals - Clayton sang with such emotional force that her voice cracked. In the isolated vocal track included in this story, you can hear the others in the studio shouting in amazement.
Merry Clayton Explains How Her Legendary Vocals Came About - In this video interview, which also includes some clips of Mick Jagger also, Merry Clayton tells the story in her own words.
Ray Charles and the Raelettes on the Ed Sullivan Show (1967) - Before the Rolling Stones' episode, Merry Clayton was lead singer with the Raelettes, Ray Charles' personal all-female backup group. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Ray put a lot of effort in establishing the girls as an individual act – in the studio, and later also as a performing act. In 1967 and 1968 the featured line-up was: Merry Clayton (lead), Clydie King (contralto), Gwen Berry (alto) and Alex Brown (tenor). The Raelettes, in various forms, existed from 1954 until the early 1970s. Learn more about them at the Ray Charles Video Museum, where, with a bit of searching, you'll find photos of Merry Clayton with the group and a brief interview with her.
Merry Clayton (1971) - Most of Merry Clayton's career was as a backup singer for bands. However, here are all the tracks of one of the two albums she recorded. It's a fine introduction to what this dynamic soul singer could do on her own
No Longer '20 Feet From Stardom': Singer Merry Clayton Steps Out Of The Background - This 2013 interview aired on NPR's Fresh Air updates Merry Clayton's story after she was profiled in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary about backup singers called "20 Feet From Stardom."