Tom Bowker, manager and drummer for the late Clarence Reid, who was also known as Blowfly, has taken issue with the way his client and friend’s legacy has been handled in the press and at last night’s Grammy Awards.
Clarence Reid had two very distinct careers. Under his given name, he wrote such hits as Betty Wright’s Clean Up Woman and Gwen McRae’s Rockin’ Chair along with producing such artists as Wright, Sam & Dave, Jimmy “Bo” Horne, KC and the Sunshine Band and McRae. As his other persona, Blowfly, he made sexually explicit parodies of popular music in what was popularly known as the “party records” genre.
Reid died on Sunday, January 17 from liver cancer at the age of 76 and, while there were some well written tributes, others focused on his Blowfly recordings and painted him in an unkind light.
On Tuesday, Bowker put out a press release, not only calling the press to task but also questioning why Reid was not mentioned on last night’s Grammy Awards, if not for his Blowfly recordings, but for the work he did on other hit records.
A statement from the management of Blowfly:
Dear fans and friends of Clarence Reid & Blowfly. It has been a difficult month to say the least, since Clarence passed. Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas and Overtown Soul Revue performed at his beautiful, over-capacity homecoming service. I’d like to thank his fans for crowdfunding this amazing celebration of his life and legacy.
The next day, The Toronto Star, the paper of record in a city of 10 million people where Blowfly sold out every gig he ever played, said terrible things about Clarence and his music. It hurt. I responded on Twitter. Our fans backed us up and the Star was shouted down. But the damage was done to Clarence’s reputation as millions of papers and links circulated calling Clarence Reid, – the writer of million selling female empowerment anthems like Betty Wright’s soul classic “Clean Up Woman” – names like “violent misogynist.”
Sunday was Clarence’s 77th Birthday. On that day, Saustex Records managed to sell out the limited-edition blue vinyl of Blowfly’s amazingly great new album, 77 Rusty Trombones. We recorded 77 Rusty Trombones last summer in Austin, Texas – much of it in one session a la Weird World of Blowfly, with Clarence singing along live. Our intention was to have Clarence’s last LP be a victory lap for him around the globe – not an epitaph.
But the album is so wonderful, it does justice to Clarence and Blowfly’s entire 53 year long career as a soul singer, platinum producer, multi-platinum songwriter and rap music pioneer. Later that day Saustex launched the yellow version, and when that goes, the record will be on the way to turning a profit and generating publishing royalties for Clarence’s family.
Monday, The Grammy Awards wrapped their entire telecast around musicians who have died in the past few weeks. Some of those artists, like David Bowie, Maurice White and Lemmy – we have deep admiration for. I have loved their music for many years and seen all of them live multiple times. I can tell you first hand that Clarence admired all three as well. We wrote unreleased parodies on all three artists. Death is not a contest. That trio of greats made a huge mark and deserved their recognition.
That said, the Grammy’s host. LL Cool J was a product of 80s hip hop – which wouldn’t exist without Clarence Reid. Just ask the Furious 5. The Grammy’s closing act was a Miami rapper – which was a concept that Blowfly invented. The Eagles and Lady Gaga aside, most of the broadcast was inspired by hip hop.
Thus ignoring the undisputed pioneer and the real inventor of the rap genre is an abomination. Many “experts” downplay Clarence’s importance in hip hop. But the rappers of the 80s and 90s DO NOT. The dates on the records do not lie.
Blowfly Music Inc
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