Charli XCX Protégé Billy Clayton Dies of Bone Cancer at 22

During his short time making music, Billy released two EPs, Luminary and Bloom

Photo: Billy Clayton/Instagram

Billy Clayton — the 22-year-old rising pop singer who was a protégé of Charli XCX — died on Tuesday evening in his home from an aggressive form of bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma.

The sad news was reported by Billy’s mother Becky Clayton, who wrote a touching tribute to her son on social media calling him “one of the most genuinely talented and special people ever.”

“He held on for so long and had more strength than anyone could ever imagine. But his body would no longer allow him to live the life he so desperately wished for and his soul needed to escape to be free,” Becky said. “Our hearts are broken into a million pieces and I have no idea how I will manage. But I know he is with me and with all the people who loved him. I was honored to be Billy’s mum and will be forever and ever and again, next time around.”

“People like Billy are rare jewels and the earth doesn’t have many of them,” Billy’s mom added. “When these precious jewels come to visit us from time to time, it is clear to everyone who comes into contact with them, just how incredibly special they are and how brightly they shine. Billy was indeed one of these rare jewels.”

She continued: “He was always completely unique from the moment he was born and he saw the world differently to how most do. He was deeply sensitive and caring yet also hilariously funny. His ability to speak in almost any accent was legendary. He was a wonderful and supportive friend who always gave the best advice to those he loved, even if he was suffering himself. He brought light to so many people.”

Billy Clayton. Billy Clayton/Instagram

During his short time making music, Billy released two EPs, Luminary and Bloom. His music mixed electronic beats with haunting lyrics and dissonant melodies.

Towards the end of his life, Billy’s disease made it hard for him to make music. Becky noted in her post that Billy never was able to make it to Los Angeles, where he had hoped to pursue a full-time music career.

In the wake of his inability to do so, she promised that she and Billy’s girlfriend Jenny would head to the California city “so that we can bring Billy, in spiritual form, to the place he wanted to visit the most.”

That passion always kept Billy inspired and working, even when things got tough. “Throughout the extremely difficult times, which he had no choice but to endure, Billy passionately created his music and art and never stopped believing that he would achieve anything that he wanted,” Becky said.

His story didn’t just inspire fans, but also his mentor, Charli XCX.

Last year, she teamed with fellow musicians Dorian Electra and Allie X to host The Billy Ball — a benefit concert to help raise awareness about Ewing’s sarcoma, as well as provide Billy with funds to help battle the disease.

All three performed at the benefit, alongside artists like Daya, Bronze Avery, Zolita, Carlie Hanson, Vincint, and more.

“It was crystal clear to everyone who knew him that he was a true star,” wrote Becky. “Billy’s music and art will and must live on. He wants to be celebrated for this and deserves to be known for his talent.”

Warner Music Pre-Grammy Party - Inside
Charli XCX. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Becky ended her tribute by sharing stories about her relationship with her son.

“I was honored to be Billy’s mum and will be forever and ever again, next time round,” she said. “Billy was as protective towards me as I was to him, and the bond between us will never, ever be broken. My husband, Pete, said that Billy and I were like twins, always together and this was so true.”

She recalled in his last moments, she encouraged him to mentally go to the fictional house he dreamed of once buying for them.

“When he became too tired to stay here any longer, I held him in my arms and told him to go into our new house and furnish it in his impeccable taste,” Becky wrote. “That he must walk into his brand new music room and start working on lots of new songs so that they are ready for when he comes back next time. His dogs are sitting comfortably at his feet and the sun is shining brightly through the windows that look out over the large garden, full of flowers. I told him to get my rooms ready and that I will see him soon. He was smiling and perfectly in that place when he took a very gentle last breath. He simply looked like he had gone to sleep very happily and at peace.”

Finally, Becky thanked all of Billy’s fans and supporters for their constant love and affection.

Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us,” she added, signing “love and light” to the note. “Your love means so much.”

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