Kingston, Jamaica (April 20, 2020)—Sam Clayton Jr., a noted producer/engineer for numerous reggae acts, died of coronavirus in Kingston, Jamaica on March 31. Clayton led a colorful life, as he was also a founding member of the storied Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada, which later became the focus of the 1993 Disney film, Cool Runnings.
Ironically, while he was among the first four athletes chosen for the country’s Olympic team when Jamaica made its push to enter the Winter Olympics, Clayton was ultimately not part of the four-man sled that famously crashed that year during its third run. Climbing out of the bobsled after the crash, the team pushed its sled over the track’s finish line, perhaps losing its chance at medals, but becoming part of Olympic history by cementing an indelible image of determination that exemplifies much of what the games are about.
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In later years, Clayton moved into producing and engineering, working with the “Harry J. Studio” label and with acts around the world, including Toots and the Maytals, Ernest Ranglin, Horace Andy and Steel Pulse. In a remembrance post on Facebook, Steel Pulse’s David R. Hinds, noted, “Sam Clayton Jr. will be missed terribly by all that knew him, primarily because, a man that is so upright, fair, honest, eager to work under any challenges or conditions, and possess an arsenal of talent, is a very hard commodity to find in this industry of ours, today. He was a jack of all trades and most important of all, a sincere friend who had a solution to practically any problem that came into play.”
Remembering Clayton to The New York Times, Hinds added, “Most important of all, in this thieving, cutthroat music industry of ours, he was trustworthy. Where Sam towered over the rest of his peers, is that he held dearly every task he did, no matter how small, or how tedious. They all got his relentless undivided attention.”
Clayton Jr. is survived by his wife, Annie; daughter, Joelle; sons, John, Simon and Ice; four sisters, Nicole, Sophia, Aiesha and Suzzanne; and three grandchildren.