By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
Soon, Stone hired him to be a full-time songwriter for his production company. Then in 1973, Stone happened upon Reid plunking out "Shittin' on the Dock of the Bay" on an out-of-tune piano in Reid's office. "I heard that and told Clarence to go upstairs and into the studio immediately," Stone chuckles.
One four-hour, live-to-tape session later, Blowfly's debut, The Weird World of Blowfly, was completed, including "It's a Faggot's World" (a parody of Brown's "It's a Man's World'). The cover art featured Reid standing on a trash can and holding a rubber chicken while wearing a ghetto Halloween costume consisting of a yellow rubber mask with antennae, yellow wings, tightie-whities, black pantyhose, knee-high white stockings, and a black superhero jersey emblazoned with a gold lamé "BF."
The Weird World of Blowfly was an underground sensation. Along with Rudy Ray Moore and Red Foxx, Blowfly became synonymous with the term party record. By the time sessions commenced for Blowfly on TV, his second album, Reid had more help than he needed. "The word got out, and every nasty motherfucker around started showing up for the sessions. I'd have nine guitar players!" Reid says. Only two axemen are credited on the session, but '70s rock gods Three Dog Night anonymously provided the backing track for Blowfly's hysterical parody of their hit "Momma Told Me Not to Come." ("Son, by morning you better heave/Before your ass gets as raggedy as a mango seed.")
Blowfly on TV's cover art featured three topless Nubian queens. The one sitting in the middle -- on top of a TV with "Blowfly" covering the screen -- had her legs spread wide, revealing pink panties stamped with "Adult Only" and a downward arrow. This started the Blowfly tradition of displaying naked women on his album covers, a ritual former promotion ace Bob Perry remembers well. "The photo sessions would always happen in Henry's office," Perry recalls over the counter at Blue Note Records, his record store in North Miami Beach. "Butterball [famed disc jockey for WMBM-AM (1490)] and Blowfly would go back there with these chicks who would do anything to get on the record cover."
Besides Blowfly's affinity for photo-shoot orgies, Perry recollects Reid in his heyday as an eccentric who traveled to and from work via "taxi, bus, or horse" due to his horrendous driving record. "He'd walk everywhere. He'd get stuck on a verse, go outside and walk a couple miles in the rain, come back, and an hour later, he'd have a hit record in the can. "
In 1978, Blowfly released Porno Freak. The title track is arguably the first modern rap song. Reid kicks off the song rapping over a solitary thumping bass drum: "While sittin' home playing with my prick/I decided to take in a flick /Only dirty movies turn me on/Like Deep Throat and The Devil In Miss Jones/I've been called a genius/I've been called a bastard/But I'm known around the world as the nasty rapper... "
Porno Freak started a brouhaha in Pineville, Louisiana, where it became the first record in American history to be banned for graphic language -- resulting in the arrest of a record clerk a full 11 years before the infamous constitutional flap over 2 Live Crew's As Nasty as They Wanna Be.
In 1981, he returned home from touring to discover that he was out of both a day job and a record label. "I was the last one to find out," Reid recalls.
A few months later, South Florida record promoter Bo Crane signed Blowfly to his young Pandisc label, starting a relationship that has spanned eight albums and 22 years. In 1988, Pandisc released Blowfly for President, a hilarious concept album that follows President Blowfly and his sexually devoted secretary, Miss Clit, as they rap about the challenges facing the "first black president" -- four years before President Clinton followed in his footsteps. "I did it first!" Reid declares. "But President Blowfly had a secretary instead of an intern."
In 1990, Blowfly's semiregular gig at Club Lingerie in Hollywood, California, resulted in The Twisted World of Blowfly, a documentary and soundtrack album featuring his Club Lingerie band, which included Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and half of Fishbone. "This little freaky ass came up to me and said, 'Hi, I'm Flea, nice to meet ya,' " Reid reminisces. "I'd never heard of him or Fishbone." Twisted upped Blowfly's hipness factor tenfold. "Flea's friends like Henry Rollins and the Butthole Surfers would show up to the Lingerie gigs," Crane relates. "And they'd be in the audience with Blowfly's hard-core funk fans."
Suddenly, Blowfly was no longer a party-record anachronism. "As rap music got nastier, there was less of a demand for Clarence's type of stuff," Crane explains. "His stuff is filthy but tongue-in-cheek. His swearing was novel back in the day, but it became more and more commonplace and without Clarence's sense of humor."
Not surprisingly, Reid has a different take. "Back in the Weird World days, I always had a live band behind me. That's what my fans expect. But Bo wanted me to sing with synthesizers and shit, and that's not what my people want." With guitarist Chavez at his side, Reid has reverted to his funky Weird World form and recruited a band of Blowfly fans half his age to back him up at his upcoming December 5 show at I/O Lounge. It will be his first South Florida gig since Reagan's inauguration. Why hasn't he played his hometown, where he achieved all his fame and notoriety, in more than two decades?