Clem Curtis

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Clem Curtis
Birth name Curtis Clements
Born (1940-11-28)28 November 1940
Trinidad, West Indies
Died 27 March 2017(2017-03-27) (aged 76)
Genres Soul, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments vocals
Years active 1966–2017
Labels Acid Jazz Records, EMI, Pye Records, Riverdale
Associated acts Arthur Brown, Clem Curtis & The Foundations, Donnie Elbert, Mike Elliott, The Foundations, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Lord Large, The Ramong Sound, The Travelling Wrinklies, Alan Warner, Colin Young

Clem Curtis (born Curtis Clements, 28 November 1940 – 27 March 2017) was a Trinidadian British singer, who was the original lead vocalist of sixties soul group The Foundations.

Early years[edit]

Born in Trinidad as Curtis Clements, he arrived in England at the age of fifteen and later found employment as an interior decorator. He entered boxing and won most of his fights as a professional boxer. His mother was a popular singer in Trinidad and Curtis claims that this contributed to his ear for music.

1966 to 1968[edit]

Between 1966 and 1967 Curtis joined The Ramong Sound. He joined the group after hearing from his uncle that Ramong, Raymond Morrison, the lead singer of the group, was looking for backing singers. Curtis initially had very limited singing experience, only singing with his uncle when he came around the house with the guitar.[1] After losing their original lead singer, the band took on board Arthur Brown temporarily, and went through a few name changes before they became The Foundations[2] Arthur Brown stated in an interview that in his time with the group, he enjoyed singing with Curtis. They both sang separately as well as doing some duets.[3] The group emerged in January 1967 with Curtis as their lead singer. The Foundations would go on to have worldwide hits with "Baby Now That I've Found You" and "Build Me Up Buttercup". Curtis is the lead voice on their hits "Baby Now That I've Found You", "Back on My Feet Again", and "Any Old Time (You're Lonely and Sad)".

After having found success with The Foundations, two hit singles and releasing two albums, some problems started with their songwriter producer Tony Macaulay as well within the group. Curtis felt that after their hit a couple of The Foundations members were taking things a little too easy thinking that they did not need to work so hard now that they had scored a hit.[citation needed] After being disillusioned with the band, he along with another member, Mike Elliott, left The Foundations in 1968 just after recording a version of "It's All Right", a song that they had been playing live for some time. He stuck around long enough to help the band audition a replacement, Colin Young. Curtis went on to pursue a solo career in the United States. This was probably helped along by the encouragement of his friend Sammy Davis, Jr.[4]

1970s to 2017[edit]

After some well-received club appearances and hanging out with artists such as Wilson Pickett, and staying with The Cowsills, he did not receive enough work and decided to return to England in the early 1970s. He did some work with Donnie Elbert and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon and later reformed a version of The Foundations.

Over the years, Curtis fronted various line-ups of The Foundations, as well as appearing on his own as a solo artist. He recorded and released records on various record labels, including EMI, Opium, Pye Records, RCA Records, Riverdale, and others. In 1977 Clem Curtis and The Foundations nearly got into the Eurovision final with "Where Were You When I Needed Your Love",[5] a John Macleod and Dave Meyers composition.[6] They came third in the heats, and were picked as a favourite to win, but an electricians' strike ruined their chances, and "Rock Bottom" by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran was the winner.[4]

In the late 1980s, Curtis joined the line-up of "The Corporation", also referred to as "the Traveling Wrinklies", which was a parody of sorts of the popular Traveling Wilburys. The Traveling Wrinklies were composed of Curtis, Mike Pender, Brian Poole, Tony Crane, and Reg Presley, former lead singer of The Troggs. They released a single "Ain't Nothing But A House Party" on the Corporation label in 1988.

In the late 1980s, Curtis teamed up with original Foundations guitarist Alan Warner to re-cut the original Foundations hits.[4]

Curtis appeared on stage as the Lion in The Wiz at the Lyric Hammersmith, and gave a successful gospel stage performance in Amen Corner at The Lyric in Shaftesbury Avenue. He has also appeared on TV chat shows, the British reality television series Airport, and had a bit part in the ITV series The Bill.

In 2004 Curtis toured the UK as part of a soul package tour with Jimmy James & The Vagabonds. At the end of a show he was invited back on stage by Jimmy James who said "I don't like him and he don't like me but that's all right. Here's Clem Curtis." They then did "Love Train" together.[7]

Curtis recorded and performed until near the end of his life; he was regularly seen as part of the "soul explosion" night with former Flirtations singer Earnestine Pearce and Jimmy James at resorts such as Butlins and Warner Leisure Hotels in the United Kingdom.[8][9][10][11] He also appeared on cruises such as the cruise ship "Azura", which docked in Southampton.[12]

Curtis died on 27 March 2017 at the age of 76, after a lung cancer diagnosis earlier that year.[13]

Curtis has been referred to on various occasions, informally as "The Godfather of English Soul".[14] [15] [16] [17]

Partial discography[edit]

7" vinyl recordings
Title Year Act Label catalogue #
"Marie Take A Chance" / "Caravan"[18] 1969 Clem Curtis United Artists UP 2263
"Mountain Over The Hill" / "Time Alone Will Tell"[19] 1971 Clem Curtis Pye Records 7N 45070
"I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)" / "Point of No Return"[19][20] 1972 Clem Curtis Pye Records 7N 45149
"I Don't Care What People Say" / "Shame on You"[21] 1974 Clem Curtis EMI EMI 2159
"Unchained Melody" / "Need Your Love"[22] 1978 Clem Curtis RCA PB 5175
"Stuck in a Wind Up" / "Move Over Daddy"[23] 2005 Lord Large Featuring Clem Curtis Acid Jazz AJX 174 S
12" vinyl recordings
Title Year Act Label Catalogue #
"Unchained Melody, Need Your Love" / "Need Your Love"[24] 1979 Clem Curtis RCA Victor PC 5175
"Dancing in the Street" / "Scottish Beat Party"[25] 1983 Clem Curtis Pressure DD 1006
"Baby Now That I've Found You" (Extended Version)
/ "Baby Now That I've Found You" (7" Version), "Baby Now That I've Found You" (Busk Mix)[26]
1987 Clem Curtis & The Foundations Opium Records OPINT 001
"Promise" (The Saxual Mix), "Promise" (The Funky Trip) / "Promise" (Jon's in the Garage),
"Promise" (Original Honesty Mix), "Promise" (Drummie Zeb Dubbed Up Mix)[27]
1992 The Promise, Feat Clem Curtis Hard Discs HARD T 3

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cherry Butler (2008-10-18). "50connect : A Chat With The Foundations' Clem Curtis". Archived from the original on 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  2. ^ "Guitarist/Composer". Alan Warner. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Arthur Brown interview about Crazy World & Kingdom Come". It's Psychedelic Baby. Retrieved 2017-05-06. 
  4. ^ a b c Dopson, Roger. Baby Now That I've Found You, Sequel Records NEECD 300 (1st ed.). UK: Sequel Records. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "A Song For Europe 1976 1977". Songs4europe.com. 9 March 1977. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Jon Kutner (2010-05-26). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  8. ^ "Entertainment, Variety, Musical, Drama and Comedy Acts available to book". Bookemdanno.com. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Butlins – Book family holidays & short breaks at UK holiday parks". Butlinsonline.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Flirtations Page". Soulwalking.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Weekend Breaks & Luxury Hotel Deals in England & Wales". Warnerleisurehotels.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "The History". 2008-12-21. Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  13. ^ "The Foundations’ singer Clem Curtis dies aged 76 after cancer battle". London Evening Standard. 27 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017. 
  14. ^ "Clem Curtis, lead singer of The Foundations, dead aged 76". The Sun. 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  15. ^ "Foundations star Clem Curtis dies age 76 following battle with cancer". Mail Online. Retrieved 2017-04-01. 
  16. ^ "The Foundations singer Clem Curtis dead at 76: report". NYDailyNews.com. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  17. ^ "Foundations singer Clem Curtis dies". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 
  18. ^ "Clem Curtis Discography – UK". 45cat. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "45 Discography for Pye Records – UK 45000-46000 series". Globaldogproductions.info. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "Clem Curtis - I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do) / Point Of No Return (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2017-03-28. 
  21. ^ "Clem Curtis – I Don't Care What People Say (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 10 May 1974. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  22. ^ "Clem Curtis - Unchained Melody / Need Your Love (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2017-03-28. 
  23. ^ "Lord Large Featuring Clem Curtis Discography – UK". 45cat. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "Clem Curtis – Unchained Melody / Need Your Love (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  25. ^ "Clem Curtis - Dancing In The Street (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2017-03-28. 
  26. ^ "Clem Curtis & The Foundations – Baby Now That I've Found You (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  27. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]