He is the deadbeat father of Austin and Billie Reed. Curtis Brown married Kate Roberts in 1969 while living in Chicago. They had a son and daughter. Curtis was a jazz musician and made several records, but his career was cut short when he became involved with the Mafia and had part of his ring finger cut off. After this he became addicted to drugs and became abusive toward his family, at one point raping his own daughter. Kate began having an affair with Bill Horton in 1979. When she got pregnant by him, Curtis found out, beat her up and left her on the side of a road. He then took their two young children and disappeared.
Curtis immediately changed his last name and the names of the children; their birth names have never been revealed, but Curtis renamed them Austin and Billie Holiday Reed. Curtis and the kids went from city to city, often changing names due to his criminal activities. Kate was searching for her children when Curtis contacted her and told her that their children had died in a car wreck. Years later he would appear in Salem and shoot John Black under orders from Stefano DiMera. Since Curtis didn't kill John, DiMera refused to pay him. An angry Curtis kidnapped Stefano and held him on Smith Island until Kristen Blake paid him ransom for Stefano.
He was shot to death by Stefano DiMera on November 10, 1993 in a back alley behind Billie's apartment. He was discovered in the morning by Bo Brady and Wendy Reardon when they went to the alley to get some crates. Due to multiple seemingly conclusive pieces of evidence, the most important being the gun from which the bullet came having been found in a dresser drawer during a search warrant at her apartment, Billie was originally arrested for his murder. It was not until the March 31, 1994 episode that Stefano was revealed as the shooter. After this, he appeared as a ghost multiple times between May 2, 1995 and June 5, 2001.