Clarence Carter

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This article is about the musician. For the painter, see Clarence Holbrook Carter.
Clarence Carter
Born (1936-01-14) January 14, 1936 (age 78)
Origin Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Genres Soul
Occupation(s) Singer
Songwriter
Musician
Instruments Guitar, Vocals, keyboards
Years active 1962–present
Labels Fairlane Records
Duke Records
Atlantic Records
Fame Records
Ichiban Records
Associated acts Clarence and Calvin
CL Boys

Clarence George Carter (born January 14, 1936) is an American blues and soul singer, musician, songwriter and record producer. His most successful records included "Slip Away", "Back Door Santa" (both 1968), "Patches" (1970), and "Strokin'" (1985).

Life and career[edit]

Born in Montgomery, Alabama on January 14, 1936,[1] Carter attended the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega, Alabama, and Alabama State College in Montgomery, graduating in August 1960 with a Bachelor of Science degree in music.[2] His professional music career began with friend Calvin Scott, signing to the Fairlane label to release "I Wanna Dance But I Don't Know How", as Clarence & Calvin, the following year. After the 1962 release of "I Don't Know (School Girl)," the pair joined Duke Records, renaming themselves the C & C Boys and releasing four singles for the label, though none were commercially successful. In 1965 the duo recorded "Step by Step" at Rick Hall's FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals; it was released on the Atlantic Records' subsidiary Atco label, but it also failed to chart.[3][4]

The duo performed regularly in clubs in Birmingham, Alabama in 1966. After Scott was seriously injured in an auto accident, Carter continued as a solo singer, and recorded for the Fame label. In 1967 he recorded "Tell Daddy", which reached no.35 on the Billboard R&B chart and inspired Etta James' answer record, "Tell Mama", for which Carter was credited as writer. At the end of 1967, Carter joined Atlantic Records. He then began a string of hits on the R&B and pop charts, starting with "Slip Away" (no.2 R&B, no.6 pop), which has been described as "a superior cheating ballad spotlighting his anguished, massive baritone alongside the remarkably sinuous backing of Fame's exemplary backing band",[3] and "Too Weak To Fight" (no.3 R&B, no.13 pop). At the end of 1968, he had a seasonal pop hit with the raunchy and funky "Back Door Santa" (no.4 pop), and toured nationally.[3][5][6] His backing singers included Candi Staton; they married in 1970 and produced a son, Clarence Carter Jr., before divorcing in 1973.

Carter continued to have hits in 1969 and 1970, with "Snatching It Back", "The Feeling Is Right", "Doin' Our Thing", and "I Can't Leave Your Love Alone" all reaching both the US pop and R&B charts. The B-side of "Snatching It Back" was a remake of a remake of James Carr's "The Dark End of the Street." Carter's biggest hit came in 1970 with his version of "Patches", first recorded by Chairmen of the Board, which was a UK number 2 hit[7] and a US number 4. The record sold over one million copies, and received a gold disc awarded by the R.I.A.A. in September 1970, just two months after its release,[8] and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1971. Following "Slip Away" and "Too Weak to Fight", it was Carter's third million-seller.[8] However, Carter's later record releases were less successful, and he left Atlantic at the end of 1971 to rejoin the Fame label. In 1975 he signed to ABC Records, releasing three albums including Loneliness and Temptation.[3][9] According to writer Brian Ward, Carter "virtually made a career from tales of unbridled love and illicit sex..."[10]

With the advent of disco in the mid 1970s, Carter's career suffered.[9] However, he signed for Ichiban Records in 1985, and found a new audience with songs such as "Strokin'" and "Dr. C.C." in the 1980s and 1990s. "Strokin'" was reputedly deemed too ribald for a public release or radio play, so the record company placed the records in jukeboxes, where bar patrons discovered the song.[11] "Strokin'" was given further acclaim when it was used in the Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor. It was most recently used in William Friedkin's film Killer Joe. Carter's soul sound also found an audience within the then-nascent hip-hop community.[citation needed] Most notably, the horn break from "Back Door Santa", is sampled in the Run-D.M.C. Christmas song "Christmas in Hollis".

Carter's later songs appealed (and still appeal) to a primarily African-American working-class audience that was also interested in contemporary blues artists such as Denise LaSalle, Bobby Rush, Marvin Sease and Sir Charles Jones. He has continued recording, releasing six albums for the Ichiban label and, since 1996, establishing his own Cee Gee Entertainment label.[12] He has also continued to tour regularly in the Southern states and internationally.[9]

Discography[edit]

Chart singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions
US Pop[5] US
R&B
[6]
UK[13]
1967 "Tell Daddy" - 35 -
"Thread The Needle" 98 38 -
1968 "Looking For A Fox" 62 20 -
"Slip Away" /
"Funky Fever"
6
88
2
49
-
-
"Too Weak To Fight" 13 3 -
"Back Door Santa" 4* - -
1969 "Snatching It Back" 31 4 -
"The Feeling Is Right" 65 9 -
"Doin' Our Thing" 46 9 -
1970 "Take It Off Him And Put It On Me" 94 23 -
"I Can't Leave Your Love Alone" 42 6 -
"Patches" 4 2 2
"It's All In Your Mind" 51 13 -
1971 "The Court Room" 61 12 -
"Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love" 84 25 -
"Scratch My Back (And Mumble In My Ear)" - 41 -
1972 "Back In Your Arms" - 46 -
1973 "Put On Your Shoes And Walk" - 40 -
"Sixty Minute Man" /
"Mother-In-Law"
65
80
17
24
-
-
"I'm The Midnight Special" - 15 -
1975 "I Got Caught" - 49 -
1981 "It's A Monster Thang" - 81 -

Albums[edit]

  • 1968 This Is Clarence Carter
  • 1969 Testifyin'
  • 1969 The Dynamic Clarence Carter
  • 1970 Patches
  • 1971 That's What Your Love Means to Me
  • 1973 Sixty Minutes
  • 1974 Real
  • 1975 Loneliness & Temptation
  • 1976 Heart Full of Song
  • 1977 I Got Caught Making Love
  • 1980 Let's Burn
  • 1981 Mr. Clarence Carter in Person
  • 1982 Love Me With A Feeling
  • 1984 Singing For My Supper
  • 1985 Messin' With My Mind
  • 1986 Dr. C.C.
  • 1987 Hooked on Love
  • 1989 Touch of Blues
  • 1990 Between a Rock and a Hard Place
  • 1991 Dr. CC's Greatest Prescriptions: The Best Of
  • 1992 Have You Met Clarence Carter...Yet?
  • 1994 Live with the Dr.
  • 1995 Together Again
  • 1995 I Couldn't Refuse
  • 1996 Carter's Corner
  • 1997 Too Weak to Fight
  • 1999 Bring It to Me
  • 2001 Live in Johannesburg
  • 2003 All Y'all Feeling Alright
  • 2005 One More Hit
  • 2007 Messin' with My Mind
  • 2007 The Final Stroke
  • 2009 On Your Feet
  • 2010 A Christmas Party
  • 2011 Sing Along With Clarence Carter

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview, biography from his website". Clarencecarter.net. Retrieved October 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ Carter, Clarence. "Biography". Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d Biography by Jason Ankeny at Allmusic.com. Retrieved 3 February 2013
  4. ^ "Fame Studios website". Fame2.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  5. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 111. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  6. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 67. 
  7. ^ The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, 5th edition. Rice et al. 1985
  8. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 301. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  9. ^ a b c Official biography at ClarenceCarter.net. Retrieved 3 February 2013
  10. ^ Brian Ward, Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm And Blues, Black Consciousness And Race Relations, Taylor & Francis, 2012, ISBN 185728139X, p.374.
  11. ^ SongFacts, "Strokin'". Retrieved 3 February 2013
  12. ^ Clarence Carter at SoulBluesMusic. Retrieved 3 February 2013
  13. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 133. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 

External links[edit]