Blowfly - Biography

Blowfly, the original “dirty rapper,” is the Godfather of America’s pop underworld. The always masked, super-hero costumed entertainer specializes in exceedingly obscene parodies of chart hits, along with liberal doses of his own uber-raunchy originals. The evolutionary climax of a long line of African-American boundary-pushers exemplified by Redd Foxx and Rudy Ray Moore, Blowfly’s relentless zeal for outrageous wordplay earned him an international cult following, yet his music has also inspired numerous contemporary hip-hop and R&B stars, and Blowfly samples have turned up in songs by everyone from Ice Cube to Puff Daddy. Famed as the world’s premier, groundbreaking rap artist—his 1965 “Rap Dirty” single preceded The Sugarhill Gang by more than a decade—Blowfly’s lightning wit, relentless eroto-mania and scatological wordplay, not to mention his outlandish, sequin-emblazoned caped crusader wardrobe, have established him as both a one-of-a-kind performer and the poster child for Freedom of Expression 


By day, Blowfly is Clarence Reid, mild-mannered, well-traveled and successful soul/R&B songwriter and performer, a man who espouses strong Christian faith, eschews all wine and liquor yet is ready at a moment’s notice to transform into his uncontrolled (and hysterically funny) alter ego. While Reid was always more successful behind the scenes, Blowfly excels at upfront and in your face verbal assaults and has long since emerged from the after-hours Southern black nightclub circuit to mainstream rock clubs. He maintains a steady schedule of bookings, throwing down vintage B-Fly favorites like “Porno Freak” and “Shittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” alongside hipster-pleasing acts of equal-opportunity degradation—Iggy Pop’s “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” becomes “Now I Wanna Fuck Your Dog” and The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” morphs into “Should I Fuck That Big Fat Ho?” Vulgar in the extreme, Blowfly—who also excels at berating his audiences with the vilest of insults—has developed a show-stopping routine that’s won him fame in low places around the world.


Born February 14, 1945, in Cochran, Georgia, Clarence Reid was a professional singer and musician by his early twenties. Singing with R&B group The Del Mires, he went out on his own with solo debut with Nobody But You Baby (1969 Atco), a first-rate set of Reid’s tough R&B-soul style—samples from the title track have been featured on discs by DMX and KRS-One—that enjoyed limited success. Reid went to work for Miami-based TK Records and their subsidiary Alston, releasing the albums Running Water (1973 Alston) and Clarence Reid on the Job (1976 Alston) and also serving at the same time—far more successfully—as a songwriter and producer.


Reid co-wrote Betty Wright’s R&B hit “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do,” and the million-selling “Clean Up Woman,” which spent two months in the R&B Top Five and crossed over to the pop Top Ten. He also wrote Wright’s Top Ten R&B entries “Baby Sitter” and “Let Me Be Your Lovemaker,” while co-writing and helping to produce Gwen McRae’s “Rockin’ Chair,” the latter of which climbed to #1 on the R&B chart in 1975. Reid was also partly responsible for the formation of disco artists KC & the Sunshine Band, introducing Harry KC Casey to future band member Richard Finch and exposing them to the Florida regional funk spin-off junkanoo, the thumping party sound which they soon parlayed into mega-stardom.


Reid’s Blowfly persona was always bubbling under the surface and reaches back to his youth. When his Grandma caught him singing a filthy extemporaneous version of “The Twist”—C’mon, Baby, Suck My Dick—she proclaimed him “nastier than a blowfly.” While “Rap Dirty” seemed a one-off aberration at the time of its release, by 1971 Reid was subsumed by Blowfly, resulting in the classic self-released debut Weird World of Blowfly, followed three years later by Blowfly on TV and a string of annual releases, all on his vanity Weird World imprint.


By 1980, the Blowfly Party album reached the R&B chart’s Top Thirty and the legend of Blowfly was breaking out of the African-American underground and started to permeate every corner of offbeat hipster-dom. It wasn’t all laughs for Blowfly, though; chronically controversial, at least one record was busted for stocking his Porno Freak (1978 Weird World) and, at one point, ASCAP threatened a lawsuit after he turned the Dinah Washington classic, “What A Difference A Day Makes” into “What A Difference A Lay Makes.”


But Blowfly’s super powers never failed him and he steadily churned out one delightful abomination after another. Often bootlegged and never exactly a huge seller—although The Twisted World of Blowfly (1991 Oops!) made #76 spot on the R&B album chart—Blowfly nonetheless formed alliances slightly more mainstream figures, such as Digital Underground, Flea of The Red Hot Chile Peppers, rock extremists Anti-Seen and former Dead Kennedys lead singer, Jello Biafra. In fact, Biafra’s own record label signed Blowfly up for Fahrenheit 69 (2005 Alternative Tentacles) and Blowfly’s Punk Rock Party (2005 Alternative Tentacles). Even in his mid-sixties, the unstoppable filth-monger pressed on with a vengeance, touring not only across America but as far away as Germany and Australia. With Blowfly, only one thing is really certain: the worst is yet to come. Clarence Reid died January 17, 2016 of liver cancer. He was 76 years old.

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