The last few weeks have seen a remarkable series of iconoclastic musician deaths. Although Clarence Reid, better known by his sometime stage-name, Blowfly, who died of liver cancer in a South Florida hospice facility on January 17th 2016 at the age of 76, may not seem as epochal as David Bowie, composer/conductor Pierre Boulez, jazz piano eminence Paul Bley or Lemmy Kilmister, he was the dominant exponent of a uniquely American idiom. Blowfly was the ne plus ultra of raunchy pop-music parodies, writing profane lyrics to existing songs, which he then re-recorded and performed live. Many compared him to "Weird Al" Yankovic, but his records are the shadowy id to the platinum-selling accordionist's super ego. Speaking to the German magazine Exberliner in 2008, Reid was clear: "Weird Al has said 'Blowfly is an X-rated Weird Al.' Wrong. I was writing parodies when Weird Al was in diapers. He's a goody-goody version of Blowfly."
Vinyl crate-diggers knew Clarence Reid as an often-thoughtful songwriter, producer and a major figure in Miami's soul and R&B independent music business. And the hours following Reid's death saw encomia from Ice-T, Snoop Dogg and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, each paying tribute to not only his foul-mouthed versions of R&B classics, but also the late-'70s/early-'80s hip-hop he transitioned towards. Blowfly's works presage the gleeful filth of fellow Miami residents 2 Live Crew, with only country singer David Allan Coe's semi-legitimate, contemporaneous lewd (and racist) recordings and Millie Jackson's similarly ribald R&B looming as large in the pantheons of dirty music. And if Blowfly took a cue or two from '50s frat-R&B smut peddlers Doug Clark and His Hot Nuts, the overwhelming majority of current hip-hop and R&B artists owe Blowfly for their frank representations of unadulterated carnality and drug use. Needless to say, radio wouldn't go anywhere near him.