Clyde Killens

During the Fifties and early Sixties, the nightlife of Overtown made today's South Beach seem tame. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and many more superstars played the Knight Beat, the Harlem Square, and other clubs for appreciative locals and visiting celebrities. The main man on the scene -- running clubs and promoting shows -- was a dapper chap with curly hair and charm to spare. He was Clyde "Glass" Killens, famous for carrying around a mystery mug -- contents unknown. At his death this past February 2, the 95-year-old cancer victim still lived at NW Second Avenue and Eleventh Street, in the heart of O-Town. Resting in a magnificent black-and-silver Milso coffin with white lining and an arrangement of white flowers at the foot, Killens looked half his age. Numerous family members, friends, and well-known figures gathered on February 10 at Greater Bethel AME Church to hear a two-hour eulogy by Rev. Marvelle Cheevers. Afterward the hearse and family limos made a last drive past Killens's long-time residence. The previous night's wake had drawn such crowds that police had to close nearby intersections as hundreds of mourners paid their respects and then celebrated this hero of entertainment with a street carnival and concert. A big party. Glass Killens wouldn't have had it any other way.


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