Paul Clayton

Folk music, Composer

1931 – 1967


Who was Paul Clayton?

Paul Clayton was an American folksinger and folklorist, who was prominent in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned a master's degree in Folklore, Clayton specialized in traditional music, primarily New England sea shanties and ballads and Appalachian songs. He became interested in the first of these as a youngster and began playing guitar as a teen. While attending college, he expanded his interests to include the music of Virginia and the surrounding states. Within a short time after leaving college, he began recording. His first releases were for a small specialty record company, but in 1956 he joined Folkways Records, the day's leading folk music label. He recorded six solo albums for Folkways from 1956–58, issued albums for a few specialty labels, moved to another prominent folk label, Elektra Records, for two albums in 1958–59, and collaborated with artists such as Jean Ritchie and Dave Van Ronk on other releases. He made his last recording in 1965.

As much a scholar as a musician, Clayton began collecting songs at a young age in his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

We need you!

Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!

Mar 3, 1931
New Bedford
Also known as
  • Clayton, Paul
  • United States of America
  • University of Virginia
Mar 30, 1967
New York City

on July 23, 2013


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Paul Clayton." STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Oct. 2021. <>.

Discuss this Paul Clayton biography with the community: