Lee Clayton – Outlaw Country Originator

Lee Clayton – Biography & Discography

Most of the people can’t stand country music, and I was one of those people. That was before I heard about Lee Clayton. Later I turned into some other famous “outlaw country” artists like Johnny Cash, Tom Rush, Waylon Jennings… and they all have covered Lee Clayton’s music!

Who is Lee Clayton?:

Lee Clayton (born Billy Schatz, October 29, 1942 in Russelville, Alabama)

Lee Clayton is not the most famous country music artist (endorsed by Bono from U2), but many people have heard his songs through other well known artists like mentioned above. Lee Clayton’s background is also pretty interesting: He first started to play harmonica and guitar at age of 7, encouraged by his father (country music fan), and received his first steel guitar at age of 9. He also took guitar lessons. After just one year of playing the guitar, young Clayton got to play radio gig on “Saturday Night Radio Show”, where he played “Steel Guitar Rag” by Leon McAuliffe. Not long after this, young Lee took a break of playing the guitar.

At age of 16 Lee Clayton continued to play the guitar again. Just before he graduated from college, he got married, and it was time to put guitar down again. Clayton got a regular job, and was ready to settle down. Shortly after he felt that his life was boring, so he decided to get some flight lessons to fill the gap in his life. Within a year he had divorced from his wife and joined the US Air Force as a trainee pilot in 1965, and after working three years as a pilot it was time to get back to music again.

Clayton began writing songs and hanging out in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Lee Clayton he started to make music professionally in September 1969. First taste of success came in 1972, when Waylon Jennings recorded his song “Ladies Love Outlaws”. Song that later gave the name to whole outlaw country movement. Lee Clayton’s self titled debut album “Lee Clayton” (MCA) was released in 1973. Debut album wasn’t a huge sale success, but it got nice reviews from the music critics. 1973-1975 he lived in fast track, and it was time to take some break. 1975 he moved to desert in Joshua tree, California. When his own career was in ice, there was plenty of time to write songs to other musicians like Waylon Jennings, Tom Rush, Willie Nelson…

1976 it was time to move back in Tennessee, and start making the second album. In 1977 Clayton landed a new record deal with Capitol Records. His second album “Border Affair” was released in 1978, and third album “Naked Child” followed in 1979. Naked Child was little darker compared to his previous album, and Naked Child is the album where Philip Donelly’s guitar work really shines. (notes: If you like Bruce Springsteen’s album Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978), your gonna love both of these albums)

Lee Clayton: I Ride Alone

“Dream Goes On” was Lee Clayton’s last album on Capitol records, and it was released in early 1981. “Dream Goes On” never got released separately on CD (It was released on Capitol Records compilation: Capitol Years). 1983: After intensive touring in Europe, it was time to take a break again.

During the eighties Lee Clayton continued touring, but took a break of recording in order to focus on his writing. Lee wrote two privately published volumes “K” and “Who Ham I?” (sp?). He also put together autobiographical play “Little Boy Blue” based on the second book.

Lee Clayton’s first live album “Another Night” was released in 1989 (recorded in September 9, 1988 at the Cruise Cafe, Oslo, Norway), and he would continue touring Europe until 1993.

Spirit Of The Twilight (1994) was his first studio album since the Dream Goes On (1981). After 1994 there has been no other new releases (other than the Capitol Years compilation album).

Back in 2005-2006 I started to hunt down what’s the latest with Lee Clayton. I managed to find a friend of his, who told that Lee Clayton lives in Nashville and still do some gigs locally. He also told, that there would be enough material to put out a new album, but that there would be no recording plans..

2008 new acoustic song “We The People” was “released” on Youtube, and Cat Power covered Lee Clayton’s song Silver Stallion on her album “Jukebox”.

Lee Clayton – We The People:

2010 Lee Clayton’s interview (part1) appeared on Youtube. There has been no news about the part 2…

Interview part1:

We The People was released as a “digital single” on February, 2011. It’s available on bigger digital music stores, like Amazon. It’s the first new release from Lee Clayton since the 1994 album “Spirit Of The Twilight”.

Sources: Wikipedia, Allmusic, Finnish Lee Clayton Article, Sleeve notes of Border Affair/Naked Child, Essential Lee Clayton.

Lee Clayton – Discography

Here is the most complete Lee Clayton discography online. If you know any missing releases, just let me know.


1973 Lee Clayton (MCA)
1978 Border Affair (Capitol)
1979 Naked Child” (Capitol)
1981 The Dream Goes On (Capitol)
1989 Another Night (live) (Provogue)
1994 Spirit of The Twilight” (Provogue)


1995 Border Affair/Naked Child (Edsel 434)
2002 The Essential Lee Clayton 1978-1981 (Repertoire 4847)
2008 Border Affair: The Capitol Years (Evangeline/Acadia 7281842)

Vinyl singles:

1973 Bottles Of Booze / Lonesome Whiskey (40151)
1978 My Woman My Love / If You Can Touch Her at All (P-4564) – 7” White label promo
1978 Silver Stallion / Border Affair – (CL 15982) – 7” Promo
1979 The Dreams Go On / Saturday night special (CL 16195)
1979 I Ride Alone (Stereo / I Ride Alone (Mono) (P-4751) – 7” White label promo
1979 I Love You / Wind & Rain (CL 16108) – 7” Promo
1980 I Ride Alone / I Love You (2 issues)
1981 Oh How Lucky I Am / Won`t You Give Me One More Chance (7C 006-86 348) – Swedish – Unique PS – 7”
1981 Oh How Lucky I Am / Won`t You Give Me One More Chance (1C 006-86 348) – PS – 7”
1981 Oh How Lucky I Am / Oh How Lucky I Am – 7” White label promo
1982 The Ballad of John Belushi / Lone Wolf (TL-2) – PS – 7”
1990 Tequila Is Addictive / 10.000 years – Sexual Moon (PRS 10167) – PS – 7”

CD Singles:

1990 Tequila Is Addictive (live) / Watcha Gonna Do (live) / 10,000 Years – Sexual Moon (live) / Saturday Night Special (live) (PRM 20162)

Digital Downloads

2011 We The People

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2 thoughts on “Lee Clayton – Outlaw Country Originator

  1. hi there,

    funny, I just decided to do a little googleing to see what I can find out about the whereabouts of Lee Clayton, find your blog entry posted only a few days ago … have you ever had a look at this? http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LEECLAYTON

    I wonder what would happen if Lee would start touring again. So many people, especially in Germany, where I come from, consider them to be die hard fans of him, desperately to see him play live again. would he be interested in it?

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