Clarence Carter

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Clarence Carter
Carter performing in 1995
Carter performing in 1995
Background information
Birth nameClarence George Carter
Born (1936-01-14) January 14, 1936 (age 88)
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Musician
  • Record producer
Instrument(s)vocals, guitar
Years active1962–present
LabelsFairlane Records
Duke Records
Atlantic Records
Fame Records
Ichiban Records

Clarence George Carter (born January 14, 1936) is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. His most successful songs include "Slip Away", "Back Door Santa" (both released 1968), "Patches" (1970) and "Strokin'" (1986).

Early life[edit]

Born blind in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 14, 1936,[1] Carter attended the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega, Alabama, and Alabama State University 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 number 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" (number 2 R&B, number 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" (number 3 R&B, number 13 pop). Both of the preceding Atlantic singles were certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.[5] At the end of 1968, he had a seasonal pop hit with the raunchy and funky "Back Door Santa" (number 4 Christmas pop), and toured nationally.[3][6][7] 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", entitled "Making Love (At 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[8] 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,[9] 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.[9] 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][10] According to writer Brian Ward, Carter "virtually made a career from tales of unbridled love and illicit sex..."[11]

With the advent of disco in the mid-1970s, Carter's career suffered.[10] After the birth of another son, Herbert Deon Wilkerson in 1981, 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.[12] "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".[13]

Carter's later songs continue to appeal to a primarily African-American working-class audience that is 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.[14] He has also continued to tour regularly in the Southern states and internationally.[10]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions
1968 This Is Clarence Carter 200 49
1969 The Dynamic Clarence Carter 169 22
Testifyin' 138 35
1970 Patches 44 18
1973 Sixty Minutes with Clarence Carter 41
1974 Real
1975 Loneliness & Temptation 58
1976 A Heart Full of Song
1980 Let's Burn 189 28
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. 20
1987 Hooked on Love 34
1989 Touch of Blues 52
1990 Between a Rock and a Hard Place 48
1992 Have You Met Clarence Carter...Yet? 73
1995 I Couldn't Refuse
1996 Carter's Corner
1999 Bring It to Me
2011 Sing Along with Clarence Carter
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Compilation and live albums[edit]

  • 1971 That's What Your Love Means to Me
  • 1977 I Got Caught Making Love
  • 1991 Dr. CC's Greatest Prescriptions: The Best Of
  • 1994 Live with the Dr.
  • 1995 Together Again
  • 1997 Too Weak to Fight
  • 2001 Live in Johannesburg
  • 2003 All Y'all Feeling Alright
  • 2005 One More Hit
  • 2007 The Final Stroke
  • 2007 I'm Easy
  • 2009 On Your Feet
  • 2010 A Christmas Party
  • 2015 Dance to the Blues
  • 2020 Mr. Old School



Year Single Chart positions Certifications
US Pop

1967 "Tell Daddy" 35
"Thread the Needle" 98 38
1968 "Looking for a Fox" 62 20
"Slip Away" /
"Funky Fever"

"Too Weak to Fight" 13 3 14
"Back Door Santa" 4[nb 1]
1969 "Snatching It Back" 31 4 11
"The Feeling Is Right" 65 9 30
"Doin' Our Thing" 46 9 37
1970 "Take It Off Him and Put It on Me" 94 23
"I Can't Leave Your Love Alone" 42 6
"Patches" 4 2 10 2 16
"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" 112 40
"Sixty Minute Man" /

"I'm the Midnight Special" 101 15
1975 "I Got Caught" 49
1981 "It's a Monster Thang" 81
1986 "Strokin'" 24 82
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ One week at #4 on separate Christmas chart.


  1. ^ "Interview, biography from his website". Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  2. ^ Carter, Clarence. "Biography". Retrieved February 21, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Ankeny, Jason. "Clarence Carter Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  4. ^ "Fame Studios website". Archived from the original on March 15, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d "Gold & Platinum". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 67.
  8. ^ Rice, Jo (1985). The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles (5th ed.).
  9. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins. p. 301. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  10. ^ a b c "Official biography at". Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  11. ^ Ward, Brian (2012). Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm And Blues, Black Consciousness And Race Relations. Taylor & Francis. p. 374. ISBN 978-1857281392.
  12. ^ "Strokin' by Clarence Carter". Songfacts. Archived from the original on June 2, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  13. ^ "Run-DMC's 'Christmas in Hollis' sample of Clarence Carter's 'Back Door Santa'". Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "Clarence Carter at SoulBluesMusic". Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Clarence Carter - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on April 28, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2023.
  16. ^ "Clarence Carter Albums and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 57. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  18. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 133. ISBN 0-00-717931-6.
  19. ^ "CLARENCE CARTER songs and albums - full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 29, 2023.

External links[edit]