Joe was born in Shreveport, Louisiana but has lived in Los Angeles since his youth. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Classical Management, and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the California State University at Dominguez Hills.
Joe began playing congas following in the footsteps of his elder brother, Sam Clayton of the band Little Feat. His introduction into the music industry was by a family member, trumpet player and composer, Jerry Long. He invited Joe to play congas on a major Motown recording project with full orchestra including famed drummer Earl Palmer. Attending that session were influential leaders in the industry, including renowned arranger and musical director, H.B. Barnum, and Joe’s career soared soon after. He became a highly sought-after percussionist in the late 60s, 70s and 80s in the genres of R&B, jazz, and blues. His impressive list of recordings, tours and performances includes such greats as the Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, “Cannonball” Adderley, Stanley Turrentine, The Temptations, Thelma Houston, Billy Joel, Gladys Knight and the Pipps, Barry White, Jackie DeShannon, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Osmonds, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Carly Simon, and blues singer, O.C. Smith. His tours included travels to Japan, China, England, Germany, the Philippines and Thailand and extensively throughout the United States in venues from Carnegie Hall to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show with Johnny Mathais and his most famous recordings were as the conga player on the first five hits of the Jackson Five, including “I Want You Back,” “Dancing Machine,” and “ABC.”
His gospel music performances and recordings were primarily with Bessie Griffin and The Gospel Pearls as well as the historic St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, pastored Rev. John L. Branham. Faithfully serving for nearly forty years, Joe held the offices of Chairman of the Trustee Board, Deacon, Sunday School Teacher, Transportation Supervisor, Bus Driver, Choir Member, Percussionist, and Praise & Worship Leader.
Joe’s musical career opened doors for pursuits in acting. He made recurring guest appearances on the Red Foxx Show, the Andy Kaufman Show, the Lola Falana Show and Dick Van Dyke Variety Show.
Joe served his country in the United States Army as part of the 210th Artillery Group in Ansbach, Germany. After returning to the States, he began working for the government where he was ultimately appointed as Supervisor of Mails and Delivery for the US Postal Service, a position from which he retired after twenty-six years of dedicated service.
He currently serves as a Deacon at the church where he is member, Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California under the leadership of Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer. Formerly working with the Seniors Ministry, Joe has returned to his love of acting serving in the highly-celebrated FCBC Repertory Company amidst an array of professional actors, directors and writers. Joe continues his musical activities as a member of two of the church’s choirs, Voices of Faith and the Sacred Praise Chorale of which he is one of the founding members under the direction of his wife, composer and performer, Dr. Diane White-Clayton.
Joe is the proud father of three children—Mona, Kelly, and Joe, Jr.—grandfather of four—Eboni, Ayres, Amere and Shyla—and is spiritual father to a host of “adopted children” and nieces and nephews. Joe met and married Diane, after auditioning and becoming a member of Sacred Praise. After an array of academic, professional feats, Joe’s greatest aim in life is to simply live as one of God’s servants.