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RIP Clarence 'Blowfly' Reid

The funk legend has died of liver cancer, aged 76

2016 Jan 18     
2 Bit Thugs

Remembered for his filthy 'party records' as Blowfly, Reid also penned numerous soul, funk and R&B hits for other artists

The world of black American music lost one of its most idiosyncratic figures on Sunday when Clarence Reid, also known as Blowfly, passed away in a Florida hospice. He was 76 years old, and had been battling liver cancer for some time.

Reid was born on 14 February 1939 and began his career in the music industry in 1963. As an in-house songwriter at the legendary TK Records he wrote or co-wrote several soul hits of the 60s and 70s, including Betty Wright's Clean Up Woman and Gwen McCrae's Rocking Chair, as well as tracks for Sam & Dave, Bobby Byrd and KC & The Sunshine Band. But his own recording career failed to take off until the early 70s, when he adopted his Blowfly persona.

Blowfly was born out of songs with X-rated lyrics that Reid had written purely for his friends' amusement. By 1971 he'd recorded an album of them, The Weird World Of Blowfly, adopting a bizarre stage costume that was part-superhero, part-human fly. The album became an underground hit and he would go on to record over 20 Blowfly albums in the period up to 2007, including (somewhat bizarrely) an album of Dead Kennedys covers in 2006.

Reid's songs have been sampled by everyone from Jurassic 5, DJ Shadow, Wu Tang Clan and Method Man to Mary J Blige and Beyonce, while if you ever wondered where Detroit ghetto-tech producers and the like got the inspiration for their filthy rhyming, you've clearly never listened to Blowfly gems such as Nobody's Butt But Yours, Babe or Can I Come In Your Mouth? Cited as a key influence by Ice-T, Public Enemy and Snoop Dogg, in 2011 Reid was the subject of a documentary film directed by Jonathan Furmanski, also entitled The Weird World Of Blowfly.

Reid's long-time drummer Tom Bowker broke the news of this death on Facebook yesterday. Ice-T, DJ Quik and RHCP's Flea were among the stars taking to Twitter to pay tribute.

Below, you can hear Blowfly Vs Darth Vader, from 1980's Rappin', Dancin' And Laughin' album… which, believe it or not, was actually one of his 'cleaner' offerings! We still wouldn't play it out loud if you're reading this at work, though...





Tags: funk, soul, rap, hip-hop, Blowfly, Clarence Reid