Thomas McClary

The Man that Started The Band

Thomas McClary  is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known as the co-founder and lead-guitarist of The Commodores.

Born October 6, 1949 in Eustis, Florida, McClary became one of the first African-American students to integrate the Florida school system prior to the enforcement of Brown v. Board of Education. He began playing music at a very early age, starting with the ukelele and then adding the acoustic guitar and later the electric guitar to his repertoire. After graduation, McClary went to college at Tuskegee University in Alabama where he majored in business.

Music Career

  • Lead Guitarist

  • Discography

  • Wide Audience


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.

Solo Career

After leaving the Commodores in 1984, McClary signed a solo contract with Motown and the following year released a solo album titled, Thomas McClary, which featured the popular single “Thin Walls” that climbed to #57 on the “Billboard R&B chart”. In 1986 McClary returned to Florida and turned to his Christian roots by becoming the music director of his church and forming a gospel music record label under which he released the 2008 album titled A Revolution Not a Revival.

Now he’s back, with an unparalleled high energy you won’t forget– introducing the hottest band of 2015: The First Commodore Thomas McClary.