Merry Clayton is one of the best known
non-stars in the music industry. In 1969, as she was far from home, pregnant,
and in a bad relationship, she was called by her manager. Her manager said, “We
have some guys from England in the studio, the ‘Rolling somebodies.’ Can you
come down and sing a track?” Her husband grabbed the phone and said, “No, she
can’t come down, she is tired and pregnant. It is 2:00 in the morning.” The
manager said, “I think these guys are going to be something. It will be good for
your career. I think you better get down here.”
Merry showed up at the studio in a
nightgown, a coat, and a scarf over her curlers. She was given the lyrics to the song “Gimme Shelter” which
had to do with the horrors of the world: war, murder, rape, floods, and shootings.
She belted out her lines and blew away the band. On the original studio
recording you can hear Jagger getting excited by her performance. Her solo only
lasts a few minutes but is one of the great moments in music history.

Thanks to Chris Lantz for supplying this idea
for a Great Moments in Music History blog.

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