(entries for “Jeri Lee” and “Jeri Sue” redirect here) Currently: 1: Dead, 2: Dying
Identical twins Jeri Lee Clayton (male) and Jeri Sue Clayton (female) were born to mother Sandy Clayton in 1963. In denial of having more than one child throughout her pregnancy and even in the days following the twin's birth, Sandy filled out the birth certificates as if the second was a duplicate form, giving the twins the same name of Jeri Sue Clayton. Years later Sandy refused to change their names insisting that they knew who she was talking to. She eventually conceded to changing the male Jeri's middle name to Lee before he started Kindergarten after being informed that the twins would be admitted as one student and have to share a locker, desk, etc.
The two Jeris would go to the same school throughout life until Jeri Lee dropped out of university where he was studying theoretical chemistry. As he tells it.. The day after first hearing Barbra Streisand's Guilty album, he made a demo tape in his dorm room, then promptly visited the registrar’s office to drop out on his way to the post office to mail his tape to Doug Williams. The Jeri's were living together at the time and Jeri Lee announced at dinner one night that he had an audition at Doug’s place, Doug's Place. Jeri Sue was furious and thought he was throwing his life away for a illusory dream and made plans to sabotage Jeri Lee’s audition and convince him to return to school. On the day of the audition Jeri Sue punctured Jeri Lee's tire and took his audition slot at Doug's Place. To her surprise, she landed the job and right then decided that a singing career sounded nice after all. When Jeri Lee found out that his sister had taken his spot and accepted the job he was furious and left town determined to make it as a singer on his own in the more competitive town of Nashville. Jeri Lee was gone for two years and by then Jeri Sue was a star at Doug's Place and similar venues in neighboring towns.
Doug was unaware of Jeri Lee until he returned to Laredo on unknown business and when having coffee at Doug’s Place confronted Doug about his lousy coffee. After slowly pouring his coffee on the ground Jeri Lee stormed out. Returning the next day to apologize, Jeri Lee and Doug talked for hours and the story of Jeri Lee’s demo tape and the audition switch was revealed to Doug. A week later Doug called both Jeris to his place for a meeting. This was the Jeri’s first meeting since Jeri Lee had originally left for Nashville. Doug revealed his plan to pair them as a singing group and promote them. Initially resistant to the idea, the Jeris decided to at least mend their relationship and maybe in time singing together would be appealing. A few months later their mother Sandy died in a boat crash and the twins decide to band together and take Doug up on his offer. After recording a few tracks with Doug they were signed by a friend of Jeri Lee’s in Nashville and they start making trips to Nashville to record a record.
Their first album, Doubly Yours, was a modest success. It earned them a substantial paycheck and a four album record deal. Their next two albums were less successful, especially Somebody Else which failed to even cover recording costs. The Jeris considered disbanding until their cover of Streisand’s “Woman In Love,” originally a b-side to their second single to the first album, became a minor hit following its selection as the theme song to Twins Day in 1987. That year being the first that Twins Day had hired a public relations firm, the event was brought to the attention of many, including Streisand who publicly thanked The Jeris for their heartfelt rendition of her song. That Twins Day also garnered a guinness record for largest gathering of twins, a film by The National Film Board of Canada, and international coverage, especially in Japan where Twins Day’s tradition of dressing alike, often in extravagant ways, was especially appreciated. Much of this coverage featured The Jeris version of “Woman in Love.” The royalties from that song alone, Streisand denied her share and essentially gave the song to The Jeris, enabled them to buy a house in Nashville.
Following their next year’s album, Where Will I be Tomorrow?, The Jeris toured Japan and Australia. As their career regained strength, The Jeris visited Laredo less and less. In 1991 they moved to Nashville permanently taking up residence in adjacent houses with a recording studio out back. In 1999 it was revealed that Jeri Sue had died of cancer, but when both Jeris return to Laredo for Christmas in 2017 this is revealed as false. Jeri Sue had cancer but beat it in ‘98! The Jeri’s left Laredo in early 2018. When Jeri Sue again acquired cancer and died a few months later, Jeri Lee became a hermit and continued recording regularly in his home studio. When Claire Brady unexpectedly arrives at Jeri’s house, he invites her to stay briefly to work out her issues before returning home. Claire’s enthusiasm with his music motivates Jeri and his creativity flourishes. Sensing the talent Claire has he invites her to back him on a few songs. Without Jeri’s knowledge Claire sends a demo tape to Cinderella Records and they sign Jeri for two albums. Indebted to Claire, and needing an album’s worth of songs fast, Jeri asks Claire to collaborate on the album.