He was the lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears - with smash hits such as Spinning Wheel , And When I Die and You've Made Me So Very Happy .
With the band, David Clayton-Thomas sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, had three gold singles and won five Grammy awards. In 2004, he dumped the group for a second time. But there's one thing he won't leave - his car.
Clayton-Thomas drives a 2009 Audi A8 Sport luxury sedan. "I got my first A8 in 2001. I was living in New York and a buddy of mine in Canada had one. I drove it and just fell in love with it.
"I went back to New York and bought my first one. A couple of years later, I bought another one and now a third one," says Clayton-Thomas, who launched a 10-piece band under his own name; they'll be performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall next month.
"You can tell I'm an old gear head. I've always loved cars. I fell in love with automobiles from the first time I stole one," he laughs.
"I think it was a '54 Chevy. It was keeping me warm. I was 15 years old. … Those days are long gone," says the 68-year-old, who left home in Toronto at 14; he bounced in and out of jails and reformatories in his teen years before turning his life around.
"For 40 years, everybody has been talking about my music, my sex life, everything else - finally somebody wants to talk to me about my car. I'm in heaven."
His Audi A8 was custom ordered from Germany in Black Cherry; one of the best features is a Bang & Olufsen stereo system.
"The Audi has a hip connotation to it. It's a very high-tech car. The electronics and engineering of the car are really advanced. An Audi says you're a high-tech guy. A Mercedes says you're a corporate CEO," he says in a stiff, serious voice.
"And next to a BMW, the car feels a lot lighter.
"You can feel the Porsche heritage in it. It handles very well; it's quick and very light because the car is all aluminum so it's lighter than an S-Class or a BMW 7-Series," says Clayton-Thomas, who is writing an autobiography called Blood, Sweat & Tears - the David Clayton-Thomas Story due out this fall.
"My first car was a motorcycle - a Harley, of course. Up in Willowdale, we used to go to Agincourt to the police auction and we would buy worn-out police bikes for 50-100 bucks each. We'd buy two, three of them and cannibalize them - chop them down and make one chopper.
"That's what the boys of Willowdale did. We had nothing else to do in the fifties. We built motorcycles and tried not to get the local girls pregnant.
"My first German car was a 1957 Mercedes 300SL roadster. I bought it from a wrecker yard in San Francisco. I had it shipped to L.A. and totally restored.
"When I moved to Toronto in the late seventies I sold the car to Steve McQueen, the actor. I paid $5,000 for the car, I put $8,000 into the restoration and I sold it for $35,000 five years later."
"In 2001, I found the car again. It was in a place called Classic Autos in Nyack, N.Y. I was driving by and I had to stop. I thought, 'Could that possibly be?'
"I went in and looked and there were a few signature marks in the restoration that identified it as my car. They wanted $350,000 for it!" laughs the Juno-award-winning musician who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
"In the early 1980s, I bought myself a 1974 Porsche 911S Targa - I loved that car. I drove the hell out of it for five years or so. But I couldn't part with it."
So he took it to a specialized racing mechanic and had it restored. "I had the body flared, BBS mags put on it and had the original 2.7-litre punched out to a 3.3 and put an 8 turbocharger on it. We pumped that baby to over 500 hp."
He drove it a few more years. "Then my daughter was born and my days of Porsches were over. I became a station wagon guy - kids have a tendency to do that for you," he laughs.
In the mid-1980s, he was back in New York - this time driving a series of BMW Ms, including an M6 and several M3s.
"I was halfway back into the sports car world - sport car with comfort. … I was driving BMWs until the turn of the century when I moved to Toronto and drove my first Audi and I've been an Audi guy ever since," he says.
"What I was driving at the time was very much the milestones of my life. When I think of California I think of my Mercedes. When I think of Toronto in the eighties, those were my Porsche years. Back in New York in the eighties and nineties, those were my Bimmer years. Now, the 2000s are my Audi years."
Clayton-Thomas has logged a lot of miles on the road. "Up until 2004, I was doing 150 concert dates with BS&T. If the concert was anywhere within an eight-hour radius of New York, I'd drive it, especially after 9-11. Flying isn't fun any more."
In his Audi, he listens to blues and R&B on his satellite radio. "Like most artists, I don't listen much to my own records after you've spent 1,000 hours in the studio recording them.
"In my Porches I never turned the radio on because the beautifully tuned engine - that crackle of the Porsche engine two feet behind your head - that's music.
"I still see Porsche turbos or a hot Ferrari go by me on the highway and go wooah! Wow - I'd love to have one of those.
"And then reality sets in. I realize the car I got is perfect for my lifestyle. And my old knees don't bend the way they used to."