Instruments: Vocals, Guitar
Date of Birth: May 3, 1923
Place of Birth: Bexar (Marion County), Alabama

Edgar Clayton began playing at age six in his mother and father's country band. First broadcast in June, 1939, on WMSD in Muscle Shoals (now WLAY) with Ernest Erwin. One of Edgar's announcers was the now legendary Sam Phillips. Edgar became good friends with Sam who encouraged him and gave helpful advise in their early days of radio while working together on WMSD (WLAY) in Muscle Shoals. Edgar had a weekly broadcast as a singer on WLAY while in high school.

When out of high school he took a job at Reynolds Metals in Lister Hill and then his family moved to Muscle Shoals. IN 1943, the Blue Seal Pals were co-founded by Edgar Clayton and Quinton Claunch. They began playing on WLAY in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Other members were added later, they were Bill Cantrell (1944), Dexter Johnson (1945). The original lineup featured Clayton on vocals and guitar, Claunch on electric guitar, vocals and comic, known as "Washboard", Cantrell on fiddle, Johnson on bass, mandolin and tenor guitar. They performed in regional theaters, fairs and school auditoriums.

In 1946, the Pals moved from WLAY in WJOI in Florence, Alabama....later forming the Blue Seal Network, with their sponsor, The Columbia Tennessee Mill and Elevator Company....expanding to a twelve radio station network throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. In early 1947, Buddy Bain joined the Pals on accordion and piano. As their popularity grew, they were given an audition by George D. Hay, (founder of WSM Grand Ole Opry) and moved to Nashville's WSM Radio Station, in addition to radio, the Pals now played all over the Eastern USA. They also toured with the Rod Brasfield Road Show. Quinton Claunch played the part of Brasfield's gal, "Susie", and Johnson played the "Doctor". The Pals also worked with Cowboy Copas and played on Minnie Pearl's International Harvester Shows.

In 1948, Edgar Clayton resigned from the Pals Band and signed a record contract in Nashville, Tennessee, as a solo recording artist. Shortly thereafter, Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell resigned and moved to Memphis, Tennessee to form "Hi Records and Publishing Corporation". Johnson came home to Sheffield, Alabama and built the first recording studio in the area.

Edgar returned to his home in Muscle Shoals taking a job at WLAY as a country D.J. In 1950, Edgar signed a recording contract with Tennessee Records of Nashville (making him the first country singer from Muscle Shoals to make commercial records in Nashville). Playing on his recording sessions were part of Hank Williams Drifting Cowboys and Del Wood of the Grand Ole Opry. Several country sides were released, all written by Edgar with BMI Publishing. Now with his records on sale and his country D.J. shows, he started a Shoals Music Jamboree, broadcast live on WLAY from the new Sheffield Community Center using local bands and singers. Edgar became good friends with a young bass player named Buddy Killen, also met a very young Sue Richards (Magie Sue Wimberly) and put her on the air for the first time, naming Sue the "Indian Princess of Muscle Shoals".

In May, 1953, Edgar left Muscle Shoals for a job at WERH in Hamilton, Alabama, as engineer-program director and country D.J. He began playing and working with local talent, giving them a chance to be heard on radio. Edgar and his new friends started writing songs together and wold use the stations studios at night to make all their demos to take to Nashville, Memphis or to James Joiner"s Tune Studios in Florence. Local talent included Rick Hall, Sonny James, Dan Penn, Sue Richards, Billy Sherrill, Terry Skinner, Carmol Taylor, Collis Terry, Hayden Thompson, and Tammy Wynette (Edgar put her on the radio for the first time).

In 1960, Edgar began a long association with Sonny James (having been his friend since childhood) both as co-writer with Sonny and working for Sonny James Enterprises and Marson Music, selecting songs to be recorded by Sonny. Edgar has had songs recorded by Sonny James (#1 records), Marie Osmond (Gold Record), The Terrys, Carmol Taylor and others.

Also, in the '60s Edgar was manager of "The Terrys" (Terry Skinner and Collis Terry) and with the help of Sonny James secured the Terrys a record contract in Nashville, placing them on the Grand Ole Opry and the Terry's became semi-regular guest on the Opry for about 2 years.

Edgar is still employed at WERH AM/FM in Hamilton, Alabama, where he is chief engineer and still on the air with his country D.J. shows (possible the longest running radio show on the same radio station). It began in May 1953, and is still on the air today. Edgar is still a part of Sonny James Publishing Company and he and Sonny are still writing songs together. Edgar is now a song writer for Mike Curb Music in Nashville.

Edgar enjoys helping new young song writes and musicians obtain their goals in the music industry and gives them air time on his radio record shows. He has been in the broadcasting and music industry since 1939 and is one of the true pioneers of Muscle Shoals music.

Awards

  • 1954 Selected Mr. D.J. USA "Grand Ole Opry Award"
  • 1964 Selected Mr. D.J. USA "Grand Ole Opry Award"
  • 1997 Nashville Association of Musicians Gold Pin for 50 years of membership
  • Charter member of the Country Music Association (CMA)

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

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