Clayton Hartley is best known as the guitarist for Solera Band in Sioux Falls. But there's a pretty good chance you've seen Clayton out supporting other local bands when Solera isn't playing. Or seen him running sound on an off night at Old Skoolz. Or jamming with friends at an open mic night. Or talking guitar technique with novice players who want to get better. He's the one loading in the band's equipment and making sure they sound as good as they can. He doesn't do it to be recognized. He does it because he loves it and that's just who Clayton is.

Last Friday (March 21) he was doing what I believe he loves to do the best: perform with his bandmates in Solera. During the set he collapsed. He suffered a massive heart attack. His bandmate and best friend Manda Kokales let friends and fans know that emergency medical personnel worked on him for 20 minutes. He lost the ability to breathe on his own and was almost lost several times.

He was transported to ICU at Sanford Hospital where he underwent heart surgery. He is still in the ICU. He is still unconscious and fighting for his life. As is the case with many musicians, he doesn't have medical insurance and faces a long recovery. Meanwhile the bills will continue.

An update to Clayton's condition was posted Wednesday morning (March 26) "Clayton has made the day of many medical personell and doctors today! He is responding to us, has his eyes open and is trying to talk. He is moving his toes and able to hold his arm up and squeeze my hand. This is incredible news becuase this tells us that he has minimal if any brain damage from this! The doctor wanted to do an MRI yesterday and cancelled it because he is responding to commands of physical therapists and other specialists. The main purpose of the MRI was to tell us if he has damage to his brain. The fact that this was cancelled is a miracle. He is unable to talk due to the breathing tube, but he is breathing partially on his own too!"

A FundRazr has been started by a friend and former bandmate that includes the following message: "We all know Clayton & the type of man he is.  To say he would give you the shirt off his back does not even begin to describe his gentle caring nature.  Please, give anything you can.  Please share this page with everyone. Let's show Clayton how much he truly inspired us all."

If you know Clayton, or even if you are moved by his plight, you can learn how you can contribute here.

If you're uncomfortable using an online site, a fund has also been established for Clayton at all Great Western Bank locations in Sioux Falls. Give them Manda Kokales' name and you can donate by cash or check and help with these mounting medical bills. Thank you.

Courtesy of Melanie Bender
Photo Courtesy of Melanie Bender