Clayton Cameron has a dynamic career that has already crossed many barriers in the world of music. From Sammy Davis Jr. to Tony Bennett, Clayton continues to push the envelope of contemporary drumming and brushes to their very limits. After the release of the 1990 video, “The Living Art of Brushes" Clayton has been given the honorary title “Brush Master”. Since the release of this ground breaking video Clayton has noticed a wonderful reaction from the drumming community, “It's been wonderful watching the growing interest in this art form. I never thought that my rhythmic tapping on empty oatmeal boxes would lead to such a distinction as Brush Master. My parents always thought I just loved oatmeal for breakfast. The fact is I knew the sooner I emptied the box...the sooner I’d have another cardboard drum.”
Born in Los Angeles, California Clayton began playing bongos at the age of seven. By age twelve his fascination with drums became so apparent his parents decided to buy him his first drum set and sent Clayton to music school for drum lessons. “I guess they tired of my oatmeal box drumming as much as I tired of eating those hearty oats every morning.” Clayton went on to get a degree in music from California State University at Northridge. During college, he played in clubs around L.A behind artists who were mentors to him. They included vocalist O.C Smith, Ernie Andrews, Jimmy Weatherspoon, instrumentalist Teddy Edwards, Larry Gails( of Thelonious Monk fame) and Gerald Wilson. After graduating from college, Clayton moved to Las Vegas to perform nightly with a jazz group called the Kirk Stuart trio. Clayton’s drum teacher Clarence Johnston advised Clayton to do his job and stay away from gambling. “I took his advice to heart. I would quickly find out from the casino boss that my job was not to entertain people with my bombastic drum solos, in fact the only music to his ears was the ching ching sound of the slot machines. No matter how softly I played with sticks it was not quite enough. So for six nights a week...during an eight-month engagement, I played...you guessed it...only brushes.” By experimenting with brush techniques and different styles Clayton was basically trying to make drumming more interesting. “It was during this time that some of the rough ideas for my future videos and books were initially developed. During my stint with the trio, we also toured with Joe Williams-the great blues singer. My time with Joe and the trio was a memorable learning experience.”
While living in Las Vegas, Clayton would go to the Four Queens Hotel for its’ Monday night jazz sessions. On one of those many Monday nights he went to hear jazz trumpet legend Clark Terry. “To my surprise and pleasure, Clark Terry invited me up to play on a few tunes. Little did I know... that the music director for Sammy Davis Jr., George Rhodes, was listening in the audience.” After hearing him play that night, George honored Clayton with an audition. "He later hired me as the drummer for Sammy Davis Jr. My new job was quite different from my trio gig. Ironically the only tune I played with brushes was on Mr. Bojangles. Well that's nothing to shake a stick at (pun shameful intended).” The other big difference was the number of musicians on stage. A big band and string orchestra numbered no less than 40 musicians and Clayton performed right in the middle of it all. Sammy could do everything...sing, do impersonations, jokes, play instruments (including drums), act and of course dance. “It would be Sammy’s tap dancing night after night that would inspire my brush playing. In my video entitled Live at PAS, I demonstrate not only Sammy’s influence on me but also the influences of some of his hoofing buddies. “ These included such greats as Gregory Hines and Sandman Sims. During those years Clayton also played for Sammy’s Rat Pack friends-Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. The three toured together in 1988-89 selling out theaters and stadiums alike. “I knew then to treasure the experience.” After returning from a European tour, Sammy Davis Junior was diagnosed with cancer. Less than a year later the cancer took his life. “His talents were beyond words, I wish that all young performers could have witnessed him live and in concert. I still miss his showbiz magic to this day.”
In 1990 Clayton finished production on his instructional video, “The Living Art of Brushes.” It was the first video dedicated to the art of playing brushes. Many musicians who had heard and seen Clayton perform with brushes would invariably say, “Brushes! That's a dying art.” To counter that sentiment, Clayton could not resist naming the video, “The Living Art of Brushes.” “After many years of playing I had an idea for a brush with more balance while playing and the ability to switch ends for different percussive sound.” These thoughts evolved into the Clayton Cameron Drumbrush. To go along with the brushes he also invented an innovative product that houses and protects wire brushes called the Brushwallet. “Check them out! Believe me, this is not just self- promotion folks. Well maybe just a little. :-)” In 1990 through 1991 Clayton toured with three legends of the jazz world: George Shearing, Joe Pass and Joe Williams. “I feel quite fortunate to have experienced playing music with such giants of the music industry. Each one of these men has given the world timeless music.”
“In 1992 the music of New York City called me, so I answered by moving there that summer.” While living in one of the most exciting cities of the world, Clayton got another once in a life time chance. In April 1993, he started what has been an unbelievable six years of world wide touring and recording with the incomparable Tony Bennett. “Performing with Tony has been a thrilling experience. His love of music and entertaining people has won him countless awards from Grammys to Emmys. I’ve had the pleasure of recording with Tony on six albums.” Each of the albums received Grammy nominations and five of them won the prestigious award. His 1994 Grammy for Album of the Year, “Tony Bennett Unplugged” was unprecedented. It was the first time a live album had won the award. Tony’s television show concept, the A & E Channel’s Live By Request, was another brainstorm. People loved being able to call in and ask for their favorite song. An Emmy award would follow and so would other artists. Phil Collins and Gloria Estevan among others took on the challenge of the live show format. Along with Tony Bennett Clayton has performed for presidents, royalty, alternative rock crowds, charities and beyond.” During Clayton’s time with Tony Bennett the group has performed with many great artists including Frank Sinatra and more recently with Billie Joel, Sting, Mariah Carey, Brandy, the Back Street Boys, James Taylor, K. D Lang, Elvis Costello, & Ricky Martin...just to name a few. "Tony has been making music history for 50 years and it’s been a blessing being a little part of it!”
“In 1997 I created my own personal history. I married my real life muse, Karla DeCay. She’s from one of the most musically rich cities in the world, New Orleans. So she understands my chosen profession. Her talents in the corporate business world have inspired me to treat what I do with focus, determination, and humor. I can't believe how lucky I am to have found her in this crazy world. Look for a possible children’s book penned by our dynamic duo in the future.”
For the past few years Clayton Cameron has been logging countless hours on his laptop, from the airplane on the road, hotels and time off between touring Clayton has succeed in creating a ground breaking new book on the elusive art of brushes, Brushworks .
Aside from being the definitive reference book on the art of brushes, Brushworks will for the first time allow novice brush players insight into the mechanics of the art form. Advanced players will marvel at the shear amount of brush technique that this compiled in this book, only a master of this art form could create such a work.
This site will augment Brushworks with valuable downloadable video examples, FAQ's, and message board forums. You will also be able to take a video lesson with Clayton himself. Of course we will keep you up to date on Clayton's live performances and look back on his past drumming history.
Pick up your own copy of Brushworks today and begin your journey into the beautiful art of brushes.