Social media is mourning the loss of Sam Clayton. Clayton, who was part of the first Jamaican Bobsled Team that inspired Disney's Cool Runnings, died last month at the age of 58 after contracting the coronavirus. His death was confirmed by the New York Times in a report published Monday.
Known for his contributions to the music world, Clayton having worked as a producer, sound engineer and manager in Jamaica's reggae scene, he was best known for being part of the Jamaican bobsled team. Clayton ultimately didn’t go on to compete with the team at the 1988 Winter Olympics Games, though he is still widely credited as being a crucial member and one of the people who inspired Disney’s 1993 film.
The news has struck social media. After reports of Clayton’s death surfaced Wednesday, many fans who had watched Cool Runnings flocked to social media to react. Keep scrolling to see some of the fan tributes.
"So many reasons to grieve from [coronavirus] – one more death way too soon," tweeted one person. "May his life, work and memory continue to be a blessing."
"So sorry to hear of the passing of Sam Cayton Jr - lost to covid-19," tweeted another person. "Grateful for his role in developing Jamaican bobsleigh."
One of my favorite movies ~ makes me sad ~ Rest In Peace— Connie (@GirlPainting) April 16, 2020
Along with fans, Clayton is also being remembered by those who had worked with him and knew him throughout his time on the Jamaican bobsled team. Devon Harris, one member of the Olympics team, said that he was "saddened" to learn of Clayton's passing.
"I am saddened by the news of the passing of my teammate Samuel Clayton. I haven't spoken with him in many years but news of his untimely death was a punch to the gut," Harris said, according to Sports Max. "Although he never made the Olympic team Sammy was an integral part of the Jamaica bobsled team. He was among the very first four selected to spearhead Jamaica's entrance into Winter sports and the Winter Olympics. The first time I ever went down a bobsled run, Sammy was the driver. We had some fun. He was my roommate, we became friends and he was definitely a trailblazer, a patriot, who competed fiercely while representing Jamaica and obviously went on to blaze a trail in the music industry as well. He was an amazing human being who will be sadly missed."
Cool Runnings was an interesting movie. RIP to Mr. Clayton.— Dana Scott (@iam_DanaScott) April 14, 2020
Chris Stokes, the President of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Association whose brother Dudley Stokes was selected to be the driver at the 1988 Olympics, also reacted to Clayton's death.
"Not everyone is going to be willing to get into a bobsled and drive down a hill at 70mph. That to me takes tremendous courage," Stokes said. "He didn't have a long history of people doing it and he agreed to that which set the pace for the team going towards the Olympics. Sammy was loved and made a tremendous contribution, so we say thank you for that. He was willing to take the first step."
😢Rest in Peace— Korinne Dick (@BlackSheeWolf) April 16, 2020
"He was one of the very first recruits. He was recruited in October of 1987. He travelled with the team to Europe and also to Lake Placid. He was working with the railroad when he was recruited," Stokes added, according to The Gleaner. "He had the courage to break the mould. He was brave to be among one of the first two Jamaicans to ever sit in a bobsleigh. Dudley Stokes Jr and Clayton were the first pilots, and that says something about the man and the courage that he had."
Really sad. Rest In Power bro Sam Clayton Jr (worked w @SteelPulse @TootsMaytals @MusicMakerBlues & many more)— Sol Roots (@SolRoots) April 1, 2020
Thankful for travels w you around Europe & sharing funny & deep stories. Thanks for keeping all us crazy musicians in line & making us sound superb. much love & respect pic.twitter.com/xuVWh854Ey
Born in St. Andrew, Jamaica in 1961, Clayton ultimately followed in his father’s musical footsteps. Throughout his career, he worked as touring manager, guitar and keyboard technician, studio engineer, producer, and even percussionist. He also worked with a number of musical groups and artists, including reggae artists like Horace Andy and Ernest Ranglin, and foreign artists such as Harrison Stafford, Sebastian Sturm, and groups Danakil, Dub Inc., Brain Damage, Broussaï, Toots and the Maytals, and Steel Pulse.
This is hitting home. Really sad.. condolences to his family x— Andrea Dempster Chung (@dempsterchung) April 15, 2020
The music world which Clayton so heavily impacted has also felt his loss. Across social media, many of those he had worked with are reacting to the news of his passing, with David R. Hinds, who is the frontman of the British group Steel Pulse, remembering him as a "well-rounded individual."
"Most important of all, in this thieving, cutthroat music industry of ours, he was trustworthy," Hinds added. "Where Sam towered over the rest of his peers, is that he held dearly every task he did, no matter how small, or how tedious. They all got his relentless undivided attention."
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Steel Pulse also paid tribute to Clayton in an Instagram post shortly after his March 31 passing. In the post, they wrote that Clayton "will be missed terribly by all that knew him, primarily because, a man that is so upright, fair, honest, eager to work under any challenges or conditions, and possess an arsenal of talent, is a very hard commodity to find in this industry of ours, today."
"He was a jack of all trades and most important of all, a sincere friend who had a solution to practically any problem that came into play. It is such a misfortune that has bestowed us right now," it continued. "I am still in shock hearing his last words echoing in my mind after our event in Ghana; 'I'm going to Jamaica to record and I don't want to miss my flight.' We were totally oblivious to the fact of seeing him in flesh, for the last time."