Monday, September 3, 2018 Is Greatly Saddened To Report The Death Of Our Friend, Santa Cruz Street Musician Clayton Gross

                                                               Clayton Gross 1991 - 2018

Please add your memories of Clayton in the comments section for this article (below).

Clayton posted several of his videos on his YouTube channel that you can see here...

"Lovely Ride" & "The Road Goes On Forever" two acoustic songs performed by our friend, the late, great Clayton Gross

A post from Clayton's family (Posted on Clayton's Facebook Page)

We lost a beautiful young man on August 31, 2018. The speed of public media has made us address his death sooner than we were ready, but…. really, the truth is that Clayton left this earth too soon and it is his death that we most certainly were not ready for. 

If you knew Clayton, you knew he was unique, brilliant, loving, kind, funny, and adventurous. If you knew Clayton well, you also knew that for a number of years he struggled with substance abuse and addiction. Clayton’s substance abuse and addictions were something that we, his family, were painfully aware of. We have had agonizing periods of praying, confronting, supporting and hoping beyond hope that his addictions would eventually become history and Clayton could fully grow to become all he was intended for in this world. He had so much to give. 

Clayton became addicted to heroin some time ago while a college student… doesn’t matter which college, heroin, other drugs and alcohol are readily available everywhere. Clayton considered his addiction a ball and chain that kept him tethered to one area as it took all of his energy to earn the money he needed to support his addiction. He had been to treatment, willingly, more than once, and was able to leave heroin alone for long periods of time. 

When Clayton was clean (not using heroin), he was able to leave that ball and chain behind and enjoy his freedom by following his dreams of adventure by riding his bike around the country, playing music as he went to experience the people, the beauty of wilderness areas, the excitement of city life, and the different cultures of our great country. He did that!!! He traveled by bicycle for close to two years!!! So many of you who are now reading this long message, are friends, fellow musicians and travelers that he met while bicycle touring the United States, busking where ever he was. He was so very glad to meet all of you on his journeys. He shared with us so many stories about you and his travels. Without heroin, his personal ball and chain, life was good for Clayton. 

Why he went back to heroin, we cannot know, and we are deeply grieved that it took our beautiful son, brother, grandson, nephew, uncle, and friend. We are richer from having had Clayton in our lives, we will grieve him being gone all the rest of our days. If you have substance abuse issues and addictions, reach out for help, there are millions of people who have left it alone, one day at a time.

It is our wish that you remember the beauty, the joy, the music, laughter, and deep thought that Clayton brought to this world and not to focus on the ugliness and wretchedness of how he left us. He is now part of a heavenly choir, albeit sooner than we wanted. If you wish, please leave a comment regarding where you met Clayton and how he brought joy to your life….your comments will bring us comfort. 

Thanks and love to you from his grieving family.

Michael Donnelly,

When I first met Clayton, he was playing Townes Van Zandt on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. 

Later, you were more likely to hear him play The Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, or Hank Williams, perhaps followed by a silly TV-show theme song ("Cheers" for one), or a version of "Kaw-Liga", accompanied by generous doses of comic mugging.

Last year, I followed his postings on social media about his bicycle and busking journey across the U.S. 

It seems Clayton touched many people in many places with his music.

He recently returned to Santa Cruz and, unfortunately, passed away this weekend.

I will miss him dearly, but will always hear his song being sung somewhere deep in the canyons of my soul. 

The singer is gone, but his song goes on...


  1. I met clayton in kindergarten at brook knoll elementary. We spent every class together year after year. We always engaged in class projects together, played 4 square. I think there were even awkward moments when I found myself having the biggest crush on clayton and being paired in groups with him. Either way we grew up together and i will forever remember my friend Clayton from now and forever. He was an amazing soul and this earth and everyone who knew him is sadened to see him go.

  2. ((( <3 ))) Santa Cruz Ca MUSIC
    Divine Blessing

  3. Losing anyone at this early age is tragic for any heart goes out to all that knew and loved him...drug addiction has touched all of us in one way or the other...May he rest in peace and continue to play his beautiful music......<3

  4. Hey Clayton,

    I remember meeting Clayton and talking bands for a long time. I was so happy when he later told his Mom that 'I really knew music'. (I think I am older than she is :))

    I'll never forget April 24, 2007 when Clayton, William, and I saw Machine Head, Megadeth and Dio at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

    Dave Mustaine was just back from his hand injury. He played a long time, better than ever. Tony Iommi was 60 years old and we decided that he was better than ever. Dio was great as always.

    I still talk about that show as one of the best I've ever seen and will always remember Clayton being there, he was very happy that night. I am happy we had that time together.... RIP

    George T

  5. Beth, I'm so sad to read this. My heart goes out to you, Lauren, Peter and John. I'm so sorry you and your family are having to go through a tradegy such as this. I will always remember Clayton as a brilliant and talented boy with a creative mind.