TELEVISION viewers know him as a finalist on this year’s series of The Voice.
HIGH NOTE: Steve Clisby found a wider audience as a result of his appearance on TV’s The Voice series.
But long before Australia fell in love with the towering soul man who made it to the final eight on the program, 67-year-old Steve Clisby had already lived a lifetime as a performer, travelling the world and sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in music.
He once reportedly jammed with Jimi Hendrix and as a member of the group American Gypsy, Clisby toured alongside the likes of Chaka Khan, Hot Chocolate, Kool & the Gang, Santana, Frank Zappa, and Taj Mahal.
One would assume he must have lot of good stories.
“I do have too many good stories to tell,” Clisby chuckles.
“Far too many to cram into one little interview but if you ever have a chance to sit down and talk, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
Despite his rich experiences as a working musician, Clisby can pinpoint one of the greatest moments of his journey which has taken him from his US homeland to Europe, where he lived for almost 30 years, and then to eventually settle in Sydney.
“There’s lots of stuff but playing with Tina [Turner] was a real highlight because I got a chance to see a real icon firsthand,” Clisby says.
“We supported her and she actually took the trouble to come over and tell me she liked my voice and loved some of the songs we were singing.
“She really was a genuine human being, not a diva at all. Everybody that we’ve played with we’ve had a great deal of respect for, playing with Chaka and Kool & The Gang, they’re all great.
“It’s been some really good times.”
The California-born singer started playing piano and saxophone from age seven.
He was first drawn to music through his parents’ record collection then expanded his musical palette with the radio playing the music of the time.
“I came along at a time when R&B, jazz and pop were all crossing over on popular radio,” Clisby says.
“When I got to know popular music I was kind of influenced very much by what my parents listened to and that was right at the apex of rock’n’roll, a lot of jazz like Miles Davis and a lot of singers.
“Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstine and then you’d cross over to pop where you get Big Joe Turner’s R&B, Elvis Presley coming in, Eddie Cochrane and the whole rock’n’roll thing coming in.
“That was a cross-over for everybody at the time, so my influences are jazz, pop and R&B. That’s what I grew up with.”
He studied singing throughout high school then, in the ’70s, packed up with a group of like-minded musos to take their music to Europe.
He remained there for the next 28 years, mostly in Holland, but also had stints living in Spain and Germany performing all over Europe with R&B band American Gypsy.
A record deal resulted in record releases, television appearances and tours with big-name artists.
He struck gold when Swedish singer Neneh Cherry recorded his song, Golden Ring, on her 1996 album Man, which featured the big hit single 7 Seconds.
Royalties from that alone provided him with enough income for “the next couple of years” and he relocated to Australia.
“I wanted to move back to some place where it was sunny,” Clisby explains.
“It’s pretty much that simple. My business partner moved here and kept telling me about it and through a series of really great circumstances I was able to get the money to move.”
Living in Sydney since 1999, Clisby established himself on the live circuit playing venues such as The Basement and releasing five records, including his new EP Soul Story.
His profile has risen on a national scale since competing on this year’s series of The Voice under the mentorship of pop singer Delta Goodrem.
After a hectic start to the year on the show, Clisby is taking a month off to return to the US for a well-earned break before returning to Australia to get back on stage.
Steve Clisby performs at Lizotte’s Newcastle on September 20 and October 19 and 20. Bookings online at lizottes杭州夜生活m.au.