Jimmy Clanton (born September 2, 1938, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States) is an American singer who became known as the “swamp pop R&B teenage idol”. His band recorded a hit song “Just A Dream” which Clanton had written in 1958 for the Ace Records label. It reached number four on the Billboard chart and sold a million copies. Clanton performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and toured with popular artists like Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Platters.
Clanton formed his first band called the Rockets in 1956 while attending Baton Rouge High School.
One of the few white singers to come out of the New Orleans R&B/rock & roll sound, he rode the crest of the popular teen music wave in the 1950s and 1960s. His records charted in the U.S. Top 40 seven times (all released on Ace); his Top 10 records were: the song “Just a Dream,” (Pop #4, R&B #1 in August 1958, credited to ‘Jimmy Clanton and His Rockets’), “
Go Jimmy Go
” (peaked at number five in late 1959) and “Venus in Blue Jeans” in September 1962 (written by Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller). In early 1961, Clanton was drafted and spent the next two years in the U.S. Army, continuing to have chart successes with “Don’t Look at Me” and “Because I Do.” His next major hit, “Venus in Blue Jeans,” peaked at number seven in mid-1962. His only hit in the UK Singles Chart was “Another Sleepless Night”, which spent one week at number 50 in July 1960.
Clanton starred in a rock and roll movie produced by Alan Freed called Go Johnny Go, and later starred in Teenage Millionaire, with music arranged and produced by Dr. John and arranger/trumpeter Charlie Miller. During the late 1950s and early 1960s Clanton was managed by Cosimo Matassa, the New Orleans recording studio owner and engineer. In May 1960, Ace Records announced in Billboard that Philadelphia had proclaimed the week of May 16 to be “Jimmy Clanton Week.”
Clanton became a disc jockey at WHEX in Columbia, Pennsylvania between 1972 and 1976 and performed in an oldies revue also in the 1970s, The Masters of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with Troy Shondell, Ray Peterson, and Ronnie Dove. He had a religious conversion in the 1980s. In the 1995 Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Clanton performed with Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, and Frankie Ford.
Clanton was inducted into The Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame, which also has inducted such performers as Tex Ritter, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top and B. J. Thomas.
On April 14, 2007, at a “Legends of Louisiana Celebration & Inductions” concert in Mandeville, Louisiana, Jimmy Clanton was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.