Thomas McClary, like drummer Walter Orange, hailed from Florida. Thomas came to
The Tuskegee Institute to study and there, in the registration line, he met Lionel Richie.
Together they put together a six men strong outfit called The Mystics. When keyboardist
Milan Williams was drafted from another school-band, The Jays, the group changed its name
to The Commodores. This was the first edition of The Commodores, which recorded a single,
"Keep On Dancing", on Atlantic Records in 1969.
Guitarist Thomas McClary's
first instrument had been the ukulele, something which heavily influenced his playing
style and made it damn near impossible for copy-cats to imitate. Among the songs Tommy
wrote by himself are "Cebu" and "Sexy Lady", but he primarily
collaborated with Lionel Richie. Together they penned "Hold On",
"Free", "Girl, I Think The World About You", "High On
Sunshine", "Come Inside", "Funny Feelings", "Heaven
Knows", "Won't You Come Dance With Me", "Flying High",
"Visions", "Midnight Magic", "12:01 A.M.", "Got To Be
Together" and "Wake Up Children".
McClary also composed
"I Feel Sanctified" (with the group and Jeffrey Bowen) "You Don't Know That
I Know", "Let's Get Started", "Brick House" and "Too Hot Ta
Trot" (with the group), "Slippery When Wet" (with Walter Orange),
"Time" (with William King), "Celebrate" (with Larry Davis and Harold
Hudson from the Mean Machine), "Saturday Night" and "Keep On Taking Me
Higher" (with Harold Hudson).
After Lionel Richie had
departed from The Commodores (and had taken "their" producer James Anthony
Carmichael with him) The Commodores began to produce themselves. For their first
Richie-less LP "13" in 1983, Thomas McClary produced "Captured"
(co-written with Linda McClary), "Welcome Home" (co-written with Bill Champlin)
and "Ooo Woman You" (co-written with Melissa Manchester). In addition, Thomas
sang lead on the last-mentioned song.
Also in '83, he co-wrote
and produced "Inside Me", "Flashback" and "Burning Hot" for
Klique's "Try It Out" LP and wrote and produced four tracks on bassist Michael
Henderson's "Fickle" album. "Feeling Like Myself Again" and "Love
Will Find A Way" were written by McClary and "Assault With a Friendly
Weapon" was co-written with Henderson. Included was also "Thin Walls", a
track he penned with Sue Schiffman and Sue Pomerantz.
In August, 1984, McClary
left The Commodores and released his eponymous Motown solo debut. He re-recorded
"Thin Walls" and that single reached R&B #57. The second forty-five
"Man In The Middle" failed to chart. McClary produced the LP and wrote/ co-wrote
the entire set. The following year, 1985, he once again worked with Klique. He produced
"A Woman, A Lover, A Friend" and "Cry Baby" for their "Love
Cycles" LP (1985).