Monday, January 18, 2016

Blowfly bows out

So it's farewell to Clarence Reid, aka Blowfly, the baddest motherfucker in the universe, who has died aged 76. In the early sixties he was a member of the Del Mires, a group which also included
Paul Kelly, for whom he wrote Chills and Fever in 1965. As a songwriter and producer in Miami, often working with Willie Clark and Steve Alaimo, he wrote or co-wrote songs for Betty Wright, including Clean Up Woman, Gwen McCrae (Rockin' Chair), and KC and the Sunshine Band, as well as recording some excellent soul material for labels such as Alston and Wand, including Nobody But You Babe, Good Old Days and Funky Party.
Then, in the early seventies he adopted a new persona as the outrageous Blowfly, whose deeply sexist and X rated material influenced today's generation of rappers. Masked and dressed in bizarre costumes, he played the role of the pimp and his
lyrics were sexually charged and over the top. The success of the first album, The Weird World of Blowfly, led to a series of other non-PC albums, including Blowfly on TV, Porno Freak and Blowfly's Party.
I saw him only once, in his Blowfly incarnation at the Ponderosa Stomp in 2005, where he played to a small crowd in the downstairs room at the Rock 'n' Bowl, some of whom booed and hissed his outrageously sexist lyrics. As a soul singer and writer he was clearly a talented performer, but his legacy as Blowfly is less appealing.
Another death is that of Giorgio Gomelsky, an influential figure in the British beat boom of the sixties as a club owner, producer, film maker and manager. Originally from Georgia, he became involved in the trad jazz scene in London and promoted the emerging trend towards blues and R and B, promoting regular shows with Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies at the Marquee Club. He started the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond where the Rolling Stones had their first residency and which also gave a start to the Yardbirds, who Giorgio managed. He set up the short lived Marmalade record label which recorded material by Julie Driscoll and the Brian Auger Trinity and the Blossom Toes. Later he was involved with progressive rock bands such as Soft Machine, Gong, Henry Cow and Magma. He moved to New York in the late seventies. He was 81.


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