Local Music

Clarence Reid, AKA Blowfly, Dies of Liver Cancer UPDATED

Editor's Note: Blowfly died quietly Sunday. Here is the message his longtime friend Tom Bowker posted on his Facebook page at 3:24 p.m.. His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week. We also thank you for supporting Clarence's 50 + year music career - especially these last few years. We love you and will keep you informed on services and tribute performances in Clarence's honor.
Nothing But Love,

It's a sad day for Miami music. It's a sad day for all music. 

Yesterday afternoon on Blowfly's Facebook page, a message was posted declaring that Clarence Reid, also known by the stage name Blowfly, had entered hospice care after suffering organ failure as a result of terminal liver cancer. 

Dear Blowfly and Clarence Reid fans. It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that Clarence has Terminal Liver cancer and multiple organ failure. He entered hospice care today.

Thank you so much to everyone who saved his house in 2014 and kept his last days comfortable. As a reward for that good deed, Blowfly has gifted us a final album, entitled "77 Rusty Trombones" which comes out in February. It is easily his best album since the early 80s, and a fitting epitaph for one of the great performers of all time.

It has been an honor to reintroduce Blowfly (and Clarence) to the world via recordings, movies and the stage over the last dozen years. The last three have been particularly enjoyable, as we had a wonderful band featuring Billy Morales on guitar and Shaun Dickerson on bass who in addition to being fantastic musicians, completely understood what we were doing, and why we were doing it. Thank you for supporting our efforts.

If you would like to express your love and admiration to Blowfly, you may send cards/letters/photos/art to him via mail at:
Florida Medical Center ATTN: Patient Clarence Reid Room 355. 5000 Oakland Park Boulevard, Lauderdale Lakes, Florida 33313. Clarence has always been a visual person and photos/art would be most appreciated. Clarence also was interested in having a full list of every sample that's been done on songs he wrote and performed. If you're up for taking a run at that, you may message me here on this page.

Please know that Clarence is being made comfortable and that his sister Virginia has stood tall for him, and taken care of her brother as best as humanly possible. Please say a prayer for her and for Clarence Reid, the Maestro of the Miami Sound who loved being Blowfly - the King of the Freaks.

Tom Bowker
Blowfly Music

The origin story goes like this: Clarence Reid was a young man when his grandmother heard him singing his own version of Chubby Checker's "Do the Twist." His interpretation of the chorus went, "Come on baby/Suck my dick."

It's a wonder she didn't keel over right there. Keep in mind, this was in the '60s. Instead, she declared, "You are nastier than a blowfly!"

"According to her, when the comet struck the Earth, killing all the dinosaurs, all that was left were the blowflies," Reid told us when we profiled him in our 2011 People Issue. "The blowflies went around the world laying their maggots all over the place. That's what my mouth was doing — laying maggots."
His mouth ended up doing a lot of things after that. He'd move to Miami in the early '60s where he wrote songs for Miami soul singer Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae, and the iconic KC and the Sunshine Band. He was working at Hialeah's TK Records when Henry Stone, the label's founder, allegedly passed him in the hall as he was singing a dirty version of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." Rather than reaching for a pink slip, Stone marched Reid into the recording studio, where he recorded  "Shittin' On the Dock of the Bay."

Soon after, The Weird World of Blowfly, his first LP, was recorded. There would be 25 more Blowfly albums, right up until 2013's Black in the Sack, which featured cuts like "Spermy Night" and "Dick Stabbath." He never lost his edge.

Blowfly's records worked their way into the bottom of many American record collections in the '70s and '80s and would often emerge after the kids were asleep. During one of Nardwuar's interviews with Snoop Dogg, the topic of Blowfly came up. "Blowfly is a legend, man," Snoop said. In a later interview, he reiterated: "Blowfly, Clarence Reid, is a favorite of mine. He's been in my household since I was a kid." Compton's DJ Quik called him his idol. 

Blowfly always claimed he started rap and invented the Miami sound, and both points are arguable. He was around long before the first rappers emerged from New York, and his work at TK Records helped form some of the most influential artists to ever come out of the Magic City. 

According to the Facebook post, Blowfly's final album, 77 Rusty Trombones, will be released in February. Until then, our thoughts are with Blowfly and the filthy folks who love him.

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Ryan Pfeffer is a contributor and former Miami New Times music editor. After earning a BS from Florida State University, Ryan joined the New Times staff in November 2013 as a web editor.
Contact: Ryan Pfeffer