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Black History Month Story time:

Merry Clayton - “Gimme Shelter”

Before 1969, Merry Clayton was just a Brooklyn-based singer trying to scrounge up any back-up gig she could find. When The Rolling Stones were recording “Let It Bleed,” they started looking for backup singers for their new song “Gimme Shelter,” and their manager suggested Clayton.

Six months pregnant, Merry came to the studio to record her now-infamous backup track. The Stones themselves were very obviously impressed with her talent. Around 3 minutes into the Stones version, you can even her Jagger let out a “Whoo!” when Merry cracks open the note over the word “Murder.”

Though the recording session put to tape one of the most memorable backup performances in the history of Rock N’ Roll, the memory would not be a good one for Merry Clayton. Just after the session, she suffered a miscarriage in her home. Many blame the intensity of her performance.

When the Stones heard this, they were heartbroken. They approached her and offered partial ownership of the track. They also wanted her to record her own version.

This is it. Be careful, it will melt steel.

Merry said, of the whole ordeal, “That was a dark, dark period for me, but God gave me the strength to overcome it.”

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