Monday, January 18, 2016

Passings: Clarence "Blowfly" Reid (1939 - 2016)

Clarence "Blowfly" Reid, who was a songwriter and producer for numerous artists while, at the same time, recording explicit "party records" under the name Blowfly, died on Sunday from liver cancer. He was 76.

There were two distinct personalities and entertainers embodied in one soul. Clarence Reid produced for artists like Betty Wright, Sam & Dave, Gwen McRae, Jimmy "Bo" Horne and KC and the Sunshine Band. As a writer, Reid penned such hits as Wright's Clean Up Woman and Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do and McCrae's Rockin' Chair.

Then there was Blowfly whose sexually explicit rewrites of popular hits were relegated to the "party albums" section of the record store. According to his website, he received his nickname after his grandmother heard him singing one of his explicit lyrics, saying "You is nastier than a blowfly."

Originally, he only performed these parodies for friends at parties but, in 1971, he went into the studio and recorded The Weird World of Blowfly. On all of his Blowfly albums, he wore strange costumes to protect his career as an in demand producer and songwriter from being associated with the X-rated recordings.

While the Blowfly albums rarely sold enough to chart, he did make it to number 26 on the R&B albums and 82 on the Billboard 200 with his 1980 album Rapp Dirty.

Outside of the Blowfly character, Reid kept busy producing and writing along with recording three albums under his regular name. In 1969, he reached number 7 as Clarence Reid on the R&B chart with Nobody But You Babe. He also charted with Good Old Days (1972 / #38 R&B) and Funky Party (1974 / #17 R&B / #99 Pop).

In 2005, Reid found new success with his Blowfly character when he signed with Jello Biafra's Alternative Testicles label and released Farenheit 69 (2005) and Blowfly's Punk Rock Party (2006). A documentary on his life, The Weird World of Blowfly, was released in 2010.

On January 12, Blowfly drummer Tom Bowker announced that Reid had terminal liver cancer and was living in a hospice. A final album, 77 Trombones, is expected in February.