Story of a Legend
Simply put, Thomas McClary is an icon. As the founder of the legendary band, The Commodores, McClary is an unmatched trailblazer in creating one of the signature sounds that define the Golden Age of modern music — a sound that has brought millions of people classic hits like “Brickhouse”, “Three Times A Lady”, and one of the most world renowned guitar solos on “Easy”.
McClary was destined to be a changemaker since he was a boy. Born October 6, 1949 in Eustis, Florida, McClary was one of the first African-American students to integrate the Florida Public School System prior to the enforcement of Brown vs. Board of Education. He continued standing up to for justice while attending the historically black college Tuskegee University, where he met the other members of the Commodores. What would turn into future Grammy nominated songs, started off as McClary writing and composing from his heart to connect with people around the world through real life experiences.
In the coming years, The Commodores would break the Beatles attendance record at Arnette Coliseum and become the first artist at Motown Records to sell a gold LP. Selling out 500,000+ arenas, Thomas McClary shredded guitar solos and moved crowds, and helped propel The Commodores to become the first African American band to headline a national U.S. tour. With a mind of a true trailblazer, The Commodores became the first artist to own publishing rights at Motown Records, and McClary’s songs dominated radio airwaves across multiple genres — from pop, to rock, to gospel. Dubbed as one of the most iconic guitar solos of all time, McClary’s genius guitar playing skills on “Easy” has kept the song as Motown’s most played song on radio and tv to date.
While selling over 100 million records worldwide with The Commodores, McClary would stretch his talents to write songs for legends like Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Chicago, The Four Tops, Melissa Manchester, The Temptations; and produce James Ingram, Eddie Kendricks, and a #1 song “Stop Dogging Me Around”, on top of an array of movie soundtrack credits. Racking up seven Grammy nominations, two American Music Awards, and two Image Awards, it’s undeniable that McClary has created a timeless catalogue that is the inspiration for today’s modern hits, and many more to come.
Although McClary has a long list of accomplishments and accolades under his belt, he’s more raw, energized, and dynamic than ever — and he’s dedicated to continue raising the bar. His live show pulls out all the stops, revolutionizing The Commodore Experience in ways that are sure to bring new and old audiences along an epic journey with every note he plays. Accompanied by top-talented singers, dynamic background dancers, and mind blowing guitar playing, the only word to describe McClary’s new transformation is divine.
And now, McClary is reintroducing himself, his sound, and his soul to the millions. “Life is quite profound and complicated until we discover that our reason for existences is anything but,” he says. “Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Thomas McClary. I am a son of God, the creator of the Signature Commodore Sound.”
Thomas McClary Career Highlights
Met Lionel Richie at Tuskeegee University
Signed with Gordy Berry and Motown Records
Commodores Lead Guitarist
The Band that Started it All
As a student at Tuskegee, McClary met Lionel Richie in the registration line. The two became friends and in 1968 they began to put together a band that they called The Mystics. McClary played the lead guitar and, early on, shared in the lead vocals. The group played local gigs then added more members and changed their name to the Commodores. In 1972, the Commodores signed with Berry Gordy and Motown Records.
McClary spent 15 years as the lead guitarist for the Commodores while also participating in songwriting, producing, and lead-vocal duties. His guitar solo in the Commodores song “Easy” has been hailed as one of the best solo guitar performances of all time. While with the Commodores, McClary wrote two songs by himself, including “Cebu” and “Sexy Lady” and collaborated with Lionel Richie to write many more, including “Brick House”, “Slippery When Wet”, “Too Hot ta Trot”, and “Ooo Woman You” with Melissa Manchester, in which he also sang lead vocal.
I am excited about my new music project “UNPLUGGED” that was released September 15, 2019. It breaches almost every traditional musical standard while taking the listener to a place where your faith will be without borders. It opens the eyes to the human soul so that you can receive your sight. Unassailable, because it’s the REAL DEAL Unrelenting, because it’s honest life stories with gut wrenching gritty guitar driven music that literally make the hair on your arms stand to attention. Good people have bad things happen to them and sometimes ask “why did this happen ‘to’ me? Well after you listen to “UNPLUGGED” you will say “I’m glad that it happen ‘for’ me because that very thing served as a catalyst to take me to a place I only dreamed of being now I have arrived!
“Never forget that all the power that you will ever need has already been gifted to you. Awaken it…”