Rod was born Clay January in Dallas,
Texas, 1948. He spent the bulk of his childhood in Abilene, Texas where he endured sandstorms on his contact lenses as he played his daily round of golf at the Dustbowl Municipal Golf Course. In this flat West Texas desert he first became fascinated with his language as an apprentice journalist for the Abilene Reporter-News.
In his academic years from the late '60's to the early '70's he studied literature, theater, music and bop psychology at North Texas University in Denton, University of Texas at Austin, Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. and the University of California at Berkeley. Lightning Rod began performing his poetry in 1966 at Stone Place Mall in downtown Dallas. Since then he has taken his brand of music/poetry/social commentary to audiences in nightclubs, schools, festivals, political events and venues as diverse as the Dallas County Jail and the Texas State Capitol Rotunda.
In 2002 Clebo Rainey, the coach of the National Championship Dallas Slam Poetry Team declared that Lightning Rod was the "Original Dallas Slam Poet."
The past 30 years have seen Lightning Rod performing music (as well as poetry) on many stages with many different groups and musicians including Red Garland, James Clay, The Jay Miller Band, Spence Pershkin and Shivas Headband, Joey Lemming and the Mighty Angelbull Band, David Crosby, The ZigZag String Quartet, Amazing Space, Scott Johnson and Cosmic Chimp, Will Clay and the Potatoes, Cindy Horstman, Rene Lawrence, Barry Gremillion, Simon Iff, as well as his own groups, The Freefall Lyric Ensemble, Captains Electric, The Infamous Joy Urchins and Voodookazoo.
Lightning Rod's Credits include:
> First spanking.
> First Place in the Texas Press Association contest for column writing.
> Adapted and performed a rock version of Marat-Sade in the Dallas
New Arts Festival. (1974)
> Wrote and produced the rock musical Dope, Sex & Violins which
was performed more than eighty times in colleges and nightclubs. (1977)
> Published "My Best Poems I Always Forget" (1978)
> Published "Inktricks" (1995)
> Published "The Heart Has Many Signals" (2003)
> Released "Oral Sets", a spoken-word CD, written and performed
by Lightning Rod and Doreen Peri and produced by Barry Gremillion.
> Published The Poet's Eye, a column of social commentary (appearing
at various places on the internet--2000-2007)
> Published The Poet's Eye (collected columns, 2004-2007)
> Published "Cool Calm Collected" (2007)
The artist is currently living and working on poetry, music and mad linguistic terrorism in parts unknown and writing his twice-weekly column The Poet's Eye. Look for his new books and recordings which will never appear in a store near you.