R&B singer and songwriter Clarence ‘Blowfly’ Reid has died aged 76.
The Miami performer, whose work has been sampled by artists including Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Shadow and Eazy-E, died from liver cancer at a Florida hospice this week.
Reid’s drummer and long-time collaborator Tom Bowker announced on Facebook that Blowfly had been diagnosed with the illness on January 12.
Bowker later released a statement to the Detroit Metro Times which reads: “While most performers sit on their laurels in their later years, Clarence constantly wrote new material and grinded tour dates like a 20-year-old.
“He treated gigs at Halloween house parties in suburban California the same as arena gigs in Germany and massive Australian festivals. He never refused an autograph, or an opportunity to tell a dirty joke. He was a once-in-a-century talent, and it was an honour to reintroduce him to the world these past 12 years.”
Reid’s latest album 77 Rusty Trombones will be released on February 19 - but his label Saustex have made his last recording available to stream in his honour.
Reid released his first album, The Weird Wild World Of Blowfly, in 1971 – famously wearing a mask to protect his reputation as a label songwriter. He went on to release another 25 albums under his persona, including Blowfly’s Party in 1980, Fahrenheit 69 and Blowfly’s Punk Rock Party in 2006.
His life was chronicled in the 2010 documentary The Weird World Of Blowfly, which premiered at South By Southwest festival in Texas. In the film, Reid spoke about his fascination with parody, adding that he would create explicit lyrics to popular songs while working on a Georgia farm to anger his white bosses – who found it entertaining.
Reid was also one of the main songwriters for TK Records in Miami, penning funk and soul songs such as Gwen McCrae’s Rocking Chair and Betty Wright’s Clean Up Woman.
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea paid tribute to the hip-hop icon, saying: “I had the great privilege of playing with Blowfly. So much joy.” Rappers Ice-T and Snoop Dogg hailed Reid as “the original” and “the first gangster rapper.”
LA producer Flying Lotus uploaded a photo of a mask which the R&B singer gifted to him to Instagram, with the caption: “RIP Blowfly. Thanks for the insanity and the mask, Blowfly.”