Funk/soul Maestro Clarence “Blowfly” Reid 1939-2016 R.I.P.

Blowfly

From hard-edged funk to sweet soul sounds to profane and ribald rock, the man was one-in-a-million. Check out some choice video and audio tracks, below.

By Blurt Staff

Funk and soul aficionados had heard rumor of the legendary Blowfly’s poor health, but last week, when his drummer/manager Tom Bowker announced via Facebook that the performer had been moved to a hospice center in Florida, the news was still shocking. Yesterday (Jan. 17), the man born as Clarence Reid passed away from liver cancer at the age of 76.

“Clarence Reid, the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today, January 17th, in his hospice room,” Bowker wrote on Facebook. “His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week. We also thank you for supporting Clarence’s 50+ year music career – especially these last few years. We love you and will keep you informed on services and tribute performances in Clarence’s honor.”

Reid was not only a gifted songwriter, penning hits in the ‘60s and ‘70s for the likes of Gwen McRae, Bobby Byrd, Betty Wright and KC &n the Sunshine Band; he helped put Miami’s TC label on the map as a soul powerhouse. And as the X-rated performer Blowfly, he also laid the groundwork for much of the hardcore rap milieu, ultimately being cited as an influenced on everyone from Public Enemy to Snoop Dogg.

(Add punk rock to that roster: no less an outfit than NC’s Antiseen toured and recorded with Blowfly in later years. One of the video clips below shows Antiseen’s Jeff Clayton dressed up as Blowfly during a hometown performance, and Blowfly himself appears onstage at the end.)

Essential viewing: Jonathan Furmanski’s 2011 documentary The Weird World of Blowfly.

Bowker has indicated that a final Blowfly album, 77 Rusty Trombones, is due this year, telling Rolling Stone, “While most performers sit on their laurels in their later years, Clarence constantly wrote new material and grinded tour dates like a 20-year-old. He treated gigs at Halloween house parties in suburban California the same as arena gigs in Germany and massive Australian festivals. He never refused an autograph, or an opportunity to tell a dirty joke. He was a once-in-a-century talent, and it was an honor to reintroduce him to the world these past 12 years.”

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