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'Fly Unzipped

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He'd also delight the audience with a dirty parody or two between songs at his "clean" Clarence Reid gigs. "I would go on Rick Shaw's WFUN-AM Saturday record hop Florida Bandstand at Fort Lauderdale War Memorial Auditorium," Reid recalls. "Rick would tell me before the show, 'Clarence, I want you to ignore everything I say on the air. I have to tell you not to do the dirty stuff because I'm required to legally. But please, do it anyway.' So I'd do my songs, and then Rick would ask me, 'Clarence, do you know any Beatles?' So I'd sing 'Something in the Way She Smells.' He'd say: 'That's terrible! You should be ashamed of yourself! Do you know any Elvis?' And I'd sing 'I got the claps/I'm all fucked up.'"

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."

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Tom Bowker