Southern soul chameleon CLARENCE REID (aka Blowfly) died on Sunday 17th January in Lauderdale Lakes, Miami. He was aged 76 and a posting by his drummer Tom Bowker said that Reid had died from liver cancer.
Born in Cochran, Georgia, Clarence Reid (like David Bowie) developed multiple music personalities, though he began as a Southern soul man. During his “soul period”, Reid worked with Henry Stone’s TK /Alston labels enjoying modest hits with songs like ‘Nobody But You Babe’ and ‘Good Old Days’. He also wrote songs for others – most notably Betty Wright’s ‘Clean Up Woman’ and Gwen McCrae’s ‘Rocking’ Chair’. At TK, Reid is also credited with introducing Richard Finch and Harry Casey (KC) to good time “junkanoo” music – the essential sound of KC and the Sunshine Band.
During the hip-hop era Clarence Reid reinvented himself as Blowfly – an X rated, “adult” rapper whose recordings won a cult/underground following. His Blowfly efforts went on to be sampled by people like Beyoncé, Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Shadow, Eazy-E and the Avalanches, among others.
Various US internet sites have posted generous tributes to Reid. Snoop Dogg wrote: “RIP Clarence Reid. Aka. BLOWFLY the [first] gangster rapper,”. It also seems that there is a final Blowfly album in the pipeline…. ’77 Rusty Trombones’ which comes out in February.