Obituary

Tributes for rap pioneer Blowfly

Clarence Reid, or Blowfly, made superhero-style outfits his trademark, along with rap songs containing sexually explicit lyrics.
Clarence Reid, or Blowfly, made superhero-style outfits his trademark, along with rap songs containing sexually explicit lyrics.PHOTO: BLOWFLY/TWITTER

WASHINGTON •Clarence Reid, the American R&B artist best known by his stage name Blowfly used when performing explicit rap songs, has died, his manager said on Sunday. He was 76.

Manager and drummer Tom Bowker posted to Reid's Facebook account, writing that "the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today".

The death was also confirmed by a Reid spokesman, Rolling Stone magazine reported.

On Tuesday, Bowker wrote that Reid had entered hospice care due to terminal liver cancer and multiple organ failure.

Reid was a songwriter for Miami label TK Records, where he wrote soul and funk songs in the 1960s and 1970s for big-name artists before coming up with his Blowfly character, Rolling Stone said.

Blowfly's sexually explicit lyrics spanned soul to hip-hop and he is considered "one of the earliest rappers", the magazine said.

His counterculture messages earned the artist, who performed in superhero-style outfits and masks, a strong niche following, although the nature of his lyrics kept him from mainstream appeal.

In 1971, he released his first album The Weird Wild World Of Blowfly. Subsequent albums included Blowfly's Party in 1980, Fahrenheit 69 and Blowfly's Punk Rock Party in 2006.

Big names from the music industry chimed in on Sunday to wish Reid farewell, among them rapper Ice-T. "RIP and respect to the ORIGINAL. 'Blowfly'," Ice-T wrote on Twitter.

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, meanwhile, wrote: "I had the great privilege of playing with BLOWFLY. So much joy. R.I.P. Clarence Reid."

But the world has not heard the last of Reid, who apparently had prepared a final album to be released posthumously.

"Blowfly has gifted us a final album, entitled 77 Rusty Trombones, which comes out in February," Bowker said on Facebook.

"His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week," he wrote. "We also thank you for supporting Clarence's 50+ year music career - especially these last few years."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Tributes for rap pioneer Blowfly'. Print Edition | Subscribe