Merry Clayton - "Gimme Shelter" video

I remember my dad telling me that when it came time to record the video for the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”, the director and the Stones’ record company decided to exclude the fantastic backup singer Merry Clayton, and have another singer mime her part, because Clayton was overweight and didn’t have the right ‘look’ for the video.

I’m trying to get a fact check on this. Was there ever a video for “Gimme Shelter” (because my sources tell me no)? Is my dad misremembering a similar event? Or is this completely true?

I moved your question from GQ to Cafe Society, where you should get a much better response. Cafe Society is generally the forum of choice for video and music threads.

Here’s the cover of Merry Clayton’s 1971 solo album. She doesn’t look fat there.

Here’s her 1975 album photo.

Your father might be thinking of this video from the 1989 Steel Wheels tour, with Lisa Fisher singing backup. But that’s a concert video, and Fisher’s performance clearly is not a dub.

Music videos from that era are more likely, IME, to be taken from TV variety shows and the like rather than being the kind of mini-movie music videos one normally associates with the 80s and later.

In that, if there ever was one, chances are just as likely they were all miming their performances, and that the original backup singer simply wasn’t available to do the gig.

Other than that WAG, nothing to offer.

I don’t know about the Rolling Stones, but C+C Music Factory got into trouble for exactly this reason in the early 90s. They substituted a skinnier singer for the woman who actually sang on the track for their video for “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”.

Thanks, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the story my dad was remembering.

The woman who actually sang was Martha Wash, who was also part of The Weathergirls, who sang the hit *It’s Rainin’ Men *(co-written by Letterman’s own Paul Shaffer…).