He may have been christened C.J. Cheramie at birth, but it was under the moniker of Joe Clay that he left scorched earth in his path as he wailed on records like "Sixteen Chicks," "Cracker Jack," "Get On The Right Track," and "Ducktail." Clay got his start drumming in John Bonvillian`s western swing band, soon forming his own group to broadcast over radio station WWEZ resulting in DJ Jolly Charlie tipping off the RCA label, who signed Clay to its Vik subsidiary. And the insanity began.
At his first session in Houston, backed by Link "Big Mamou" Davis and Hal Harris on guitars, Clay cut the frenetic "Sixteen Chicks" and a fractured version of Rudy Grayzell's "Ducktail." His next stop was New York City, where, backed by Mickey Baker on string bustin' guitar and no less than two drummers, he took absolutely no prisoners on the blasting "Cracker Jack," backing it with a killer rendition of Ray Charles' "Get On The Right Track." When D.J. Fontana couldn't make an Elvis gig in New Orleans, Clay filled in on drums. He was also scheduled to play with Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show, but the appearance was cancelled when the producers became terrified by the potential threat of Elvis causing too many gals to come in their pants with his hip shakin' antics!
Dropped by Vik, Clay hit Papa Joe's on Bourbon Street in the '60s, playing with Dr. John, Freddy Fender, Joe Barry, Frankie Ford and Skip Easterling in what's come to be known as "The GreatestUnrecorded Band On Earth." The group packed 'em in every nite--strippers, tourists, pick pockets, party animals, mobsters, politicians, cooks, waiters and good musicians--until noon the next day for the better part of a decade. Around this time Clay managed to cut a pair of swamp pop 45s as Russ Wayne and then disappeared.
Found driving a school bus in Gretna, Louisiana, in the mid '8Os, Joe Clay has returned to tear up stages around the world. Listen to Joe Clay on 16 Chicks