The pride of Alberta’s Lakeland, Clayton Bellamy was born in Bonnyville, growing up with music a constant fixture in his home. He cites everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Blue Oyster Cult to Johnny Cash and anyone named ‘Hank’ as influences, and incorporated a little bit of everything into his early live performances. Out of high school, he enrolled at RDC in Red Deer, majoring in Music, around that same same time he’d assembled his own band and honed his chops over the next couple of years on the Alberta bar circuit.
His first album was in 1999 with the independent five-song EP called RUNNING ON EMPTY. With a production helping hand from Bart McKay and recorded at Sound Edge Production in Saskatoon, it featured two versions of the title track. In what would become his blue collar ‘rocker meets country crooner’ style in “Pipeline” and “Sunset Boulevard,” the album was an instant favourite, sparking more road trips across the prairies in between classes, affording him more valuable stage experience, as well as general exposure to audiences.
His follow-up album came in ’01, simply titled THE CLAYTON BELLAMY BAND. Following in its predecessor, it melded a rock band playing in a studio honky tonk with the lead-off “Long Way To Houston” and “I Love You Too Much.” But other tracks like “Devil’s Charm” and “The Ballad of Claude Perdu” also showed a maturity in the writing – storytelling while weaving intricate melodies into well thought-out lyrics.
Bellamy’s career skyrocketed after landing a role in ’04 on CMT’s new program, “The Road Hammers.” The plot was simple – team a group of musicians up with Jason McCoy as Canada’s newest supergroup. The Roadhammers, both the band and the show, became instant hits and the band’s self-titled debut album earned them a Juno in ’06 for Country Album of the Year, and spawned five smash singles, including “I’m A Road Hammer, and covers of “East Bound & Down” and “Girl On The Billboard.”
In between recording, filming, and touring, Bellamy found time to make the odd solo appearance over the next few years. With Alberta’s centennial in 2005, it was only natural that he be the headline performer when Bonnyville was named one of the ten communities around the province to hold official celebrations.
The TV show ran its two seasons course, but the band didn’t die with it. Instead, the album was repackaged as BLOOD SWEAT & STEEL with a couple of track changes for US distribution, everyone moved to Nashville to fast track their careers, and they returned with ROADHAMMERS II in ’09. Another four singles followed in the middle of another set of tours to sold out crowds across North America, and this time to China. By the time the Road Hammers had run their course in late 2010, they added four CCMAs and SOCAN’s Songwriter of the Year awards to their mantle, had taken the stage at the Grand Ol’ Opry, and had even played for President Jimmy Carter.
But with everyone having gone back to regular lives and picking up their careers where they’d been left off, Bellamy stayed in Nashville, and released his third solo album in the spring of 2012. First out of the gate on the singles chart from EVERYONE’S A DREAMER was the title track, released on Boxing Day 2011. With the video shot in and around the Bonnyville area’s schools, he said it was his way of giving back to the kids, and also in appreciation of Northern Lights School Division honouring his inspiration to students, naming him an ambassador for the division’s music program.
Other album highlights included co-writing “Drop ‘Er In Low” with Mike Plume (who also has Bonnyville roots), “Alberta Bones” with Big Sugar‘s Gordie Johnson, and “Nineteen,” co-written by Gary Nicholson and referencing everything from high school football, The Twin Towers, and the death of a young Marine.
Outside of his music, Bellamy also has a history in motocross, once ranking #4 in the country. He and wife Julie volunteer their time to several charitable initiatives such as the Greater Nashville Church Missions in Columbia and Mexico, and with Compassion Canada.