Date of Birth: January 14, 1936
Place of Birth: Montgomery, Alabama
1989 Governor's Achievement Award
Well, I'II tell ya, it makes no difference if you came from the city. And it don't matter if you came from the country. And some of you out there within the sound of my voice may have come from the suburbs," declares Clarence Carter, in his most stentorian tones, at the climactic moment of his lost masterpiece. "Making Love (At The Dark End Of The Street"). He is preaching on one of his great themes -the furtive pursuit of love- but he might as well be sending a message about the universality of his music. For Clarence Carter is both an artist steeped in the most traditional aspects of Southern music and one of the most modern of all deep bluesmen.
Unlike most of his peers in the Southern soul hierarchy. Carter's musical approach harkened directly back to acoustic country blues. Specifically, he was the final link in a long chain of blind blues singer-guitarists, a descendant of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Blind Willie McTell, and Blind Willie Johnson, among others. Like them, he was possessed of a special vision, darkling and a little frightening. In Carter's case, love, particularly cheating love, became the great spiritual metaphor. In a sense, he owed more to the preaching gospel-blues of Blind Willie Johnson than any of the others, for even when he was singing the melody straight, you always had the feeling that Carter was reaching for a homily and his vocals feature frequent interjections and interpolations. spoken, gasped and hummed, whose source could only be the gospel church.
On the other hand, more than any of his guitar-playing predecessors (but not unlike that more contemporary blind musical genius. Ray Charles, Carter was possessed of an expansive sense of humor, embodied in the lewd guttural chuckle (reportedly derived from Mr. Lee, a Montgomery, Ala. disc jockey) that punctuates many of his best records. This deeply ironic spirit also allowed Carter to knowingly but quite unselfconsciously work with metaphors based on his own blindness, as on "I Can't See Myself' and "I'd Rather Go Blind." For all his links to the past, this spirit marks Clarence Carter as a genuinely modern performer, a link in another chain that stretches from streetcorner dozens players to the rappers of today.
Those links began to be forged in Montgomery, Alabama, where Carter was born on January 4, 1936. He grew up, learned to play guitar from listening to records by John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins and Jimmy Reed, then attended Alabama State College in Montgomery. where he earned a music degree. By the time he graduated, Carter had developed sufficiently diverse skills that on his recordings, he would not only sing and play guitar but also occasionally do his own keyboard work and write and arrange, writing charts in Braille. Around 1963, Carter and Calvin Scott began singing together. They made two singles for tiny Fairlane Records as Clarence and Calvin and then another four for Duke Records. three of them as the C&C Boys.
In 1965. Clarence and Calvin paid Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, $85 to record "Step By Step" and "Rooster Knees And Rice." Their contract with Duke had expired. but Atlanta disc jockey Zenas Sears (formerly manager of Chuck Willis. among others) tipped Atlantic's Jerry Wexler to the quality of the disc. and it was released by the Atco subsidiary. "Step By Step" didn't chart, but Clarence's one full-throated verse made an impact that survived the departure of Scott after a car crash. Carter's first few solo singles appeared on Hall's Fame label. But after "Thread The Needle" briefly crossed over and "Tell Daddy" provided the inspiration for Etta James's crossover success with "Tell Mama," he became a full-fledged Atlantic act with "Looking For A Fox." in January 1968.
Six months later, Carter scored a solid Top Ten hit with the magnificent cheating blues ballad "Slip Away." and over the next three years, he was a steady R&B presence on the lower reaches of the pop charts, climaxing with his other Top Ten hit, "Patches," in 1970, but continuing on Atlantic through late 1971's "Slipped. Tripped And Fell In Love" (which did almost as much for Ann Peebles as "Tell Daddy" did for Etta James). Carter continued working with Rick Hall until the mid-70s. Since then, he has recorded for a variety of small labels, most often with Atlanta-based Ichiban. for whom he still occasionally makes the R&B charts.
The typical Clarence Carter record features his mammoth vocal and twanging Jazzmaster guitar figures over a solid Muscle Shoals soul groove, accented by a sonorous Memphis-style horn chart. Chances are, if the song is a ballad, there may be some kind of preaching break, or if the tune is uptempo. ample space for his lascivious chuckle. (That naughty laugh practically becomes a percussion instrument on his Christmas classic, "Back Door Santa.")
Carter sings, in hit massive deep baritone, almost every kind of love song. from the ecstatic "Soul Deep" (borrowed from the Box Tops) to the despondent "I'd Rather Go Blind." but his specialty is narrating cheating in all its myriad aspects. Most often, he presents infidelity either as the most rarefied of romantic delights or as a sin whose wages are guilt both overwhelming and spine-tingling. "Slip Away" typifies what he has to say on the subject but the pinnacle of his preachments on this text in undoubtedly "Making Love (At The Dark End Of The Street)," with its four minutes of preaching and thirty seconds of singing.
Here, Carter takes the archetypal deep soul song, James Carr's "The Dark End Of The Street" and reworks it in a way that reinvests it with the spirit of gospel-blues preaching. Yet he does this over a groove that's partly carried by strings. just the same. Carter's sermon on sexual expression ranges from barnyard couplings to the Mile High Club. The opening sentences are high absurdity and accompanied by that grave chuckle; the final lines, in which Carter finally discourses (as you knew he would) on the propensity of humans to "slip around." practically sob with the resonance of his voice. The sound seems to blossom directly from his chest, an explosion of feeling so rich that mere flesh cannot contain it. If the goal of Southern soul is to intermingle the sexual and the spiritual so that they are at last indistinguishable, then one of the rare times when the fusion is fully achieved is the moment when Carter ceases to preach and begins to sing: "Aaaaat the dark end of the street."
In its fusion of the absurd and the profound, there could be no record more redolent of rock 'n' roll than Carter's "Making Love," but just the same, it remains one of the great mystery records of both rock and soul. (How Rick Hall ever got the nerve to release it -as the B side of "Snatching It Back" is more easily explained. Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau talked him into it.) But this much is certainly true: The absurdity of the opening lines is indispensable to the catharsis of the final drama. And only one of soul's great artists would have come up with anything so outrageous yet perfectly constructed.
Clarence Carter has sustained the tension between those elements throughout his career it is there in the corny sentiment of "Patches" and it is the essence of the exuberant snickers that made "Sixty Minute Man" his last true classic, released on Fame following Carter's departure from Atlantic. Skirting that close to caricature, he found the depths of soul hidden at the dark end of the street. For a soul singer, there could hardly be a greater tribute.
Taken from the Rhino CD "Snatching It Back"
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Clarence Carter - The man who brought you "Strokin", Slip Away, Patches, Sixty Minute Man and so many other hits. Has come across with his next installment of Backseat Ballads, "One More Hit"is a 14 track CD filled with the sounds you knew and the sounds you will want to remember. From the Soulful sound of "A New Love" to the infectious blues of "Are You Ready for the Blues?". Clarence Carter is back at bat for "ONE MORE HIT". Clarence can still be seen hitting the road with his bag of musical emotions. Showcasing his music of the past, while interjecting his musical vision of the future, Clarence still performs for 1000's of fans a year . Dr.CC as he is known to his worldwide fan base, can still bring the party to life with his soulful guitar work intertwined with his sexy lyrics, reminding us that you don't have to be down to sing the blues.
Clarence Carter (born 14 January 1936, Montgomery, Alabama) is a singer and musician.
Carter’s earliest releases were as half of the duo Clarence And Calvin. Also known as the “C And C Boys”, the blind duo made seven singles, the last of which was recorded at Fame’s Muscle Shoals studio. When his partner, Calvin Thomas (aka Scott), suffered serious injuries in a car accident in 1966, Carter became a solo act (Calvin himself later reappeared as a solo act to record two Dave Crawford-produced Atco Records singles in 1969/70 and a Clarence Paul-produced 1971 album for Stax Records, I’m Not Blind . … I Just Can’t See, from which two singles were also taken). “Tell Daddy”, released in January 1967, began a fruitful spell of Fame-produced hits by Carter, released on the Atlantic Records label. Noteworthy were “Thread The Needle”, “Looking For A Fox” and “Slip Away”, where the singer combined his outstanding voice with his skill as an arranger and musician.
“Patches”, first recorded by Chairmen Of The Board, was a UK number 2 and a US number 4 in 1970, but despite further strong offerings, Clarence was unable to sustain the momentum. He remained with Fame until 1973, where he also helped guide Candi Staton, who was now his wife, before moving to ABC Records the subsequent year.
Further recordings on Venture and Big C took Carter’s career into the 1980s and later the artist found a sympathetic outlet with the Ichiban Records label. Despite being blinded as a child, he developed a distinctive guitar style that complemented his earthy delivery, and was just as comfortable on keyboards, writing songs or arranging sessions.
Clarence Carter (born January 14, 1936) is a blind American soul singer and musician.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama on 14 January 1936, 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. His professional music career began with friend Calvin Scott, signing to the Fairlane Records label to release "I Wanna Dance But I Don't Know How" the following year. After the 1962 release of "I Don't Know (School Girl)," Carter and Scott left Fairlane Records for Duke Records, renaming themselves the CL Boys for their label debut, Hey. In all, the duo cut four Duke singles, none of them generating more than a shrug at radio.
In 1965, they travelled to Rick Hall's FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to record "Step by Step" and its flip side, "Rooster Knees and Rice." Atlantic Records took notice and released "Step by Step" on its Atco Records subsidiary, but it flopped. Carter continued as a solo act, signing to the Fame Records label for 1967's Tell Daddy. Several more solid singles followed, until Carter released "Slip Away," which hit number 6 on the Pop Charts. "Too Weak to Fight" hit number 13. Several more soul singles followed, like "Snatching It Back," "Making Love (At The Dark End of the Street)", "The Feeling Is Right," "Doing Our Thing" and "Patches." "Patches", (first recorded by Chairmen of the Board), was a UK number 2 and a U.S. number 4 in 1970, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1971. This disc 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. Following "Slip Away" and "Too Weak to Fight", it was Carter's third million seller.
With the advent of disco in the mid 1970s, Carter's career suffered, before he found a new audience with bawdy songs such as "Strokin'" for Ichiban Records in the 1980s and 1990s. . Carter's strong soul sound also found an audience within the then-nascent hip-hop community. Most notably, the horn break from Carter's song "Backdoor Santa", is sampled in the Run DMC Christmas song "Christmas in Hollis".
1968 This Is Clarence Carter
1969 The Dynamic Clarence Carter
1971 That's What Your Love Means to Me
1973 Sixty Minutes
1975 Loneliness & Temptation
1976 Heart Full of Song
1977 I Got Caught Making Love
1977 Let's Burn
1981 Mr. Clarence Carter in Person
1986 Dr. C.C.
1987 Hooked on Love
1989 Touch of Blues
1990 Between a Rock and a Hard Place
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 (to the face)
2007 Messin' with My Mind
2007- The Final Stroke
1^ http://www.clarencecarter.net/bio1.htm Interview, biography from his website
2^ Carter, Clarence. "Biography". Retrieved 2009-02-21.
3^ http://www.fame2.com/studioshistory1.html Fame Studios website
4^ Making Love (At The Dark End of the Street) - Youtube with image of single label
5^ The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, 5th edition. Rice et al. 1985
6^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 301. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
Singer Clarence Carter exemplified the gritty, earthy sound of Muscle Shoals R&B, fusing the devastating poignancy of the blues with a wicked, lascivious wit to create deeply soulful music rooted in the American South of the past and the present. Born January 14, 1936, in Montgomery, AL, Carter was blind from birth. He immediately gravitated to music, teaching himself guitar by listening to the blues classics of John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed. He majored in music at Alabama State University, learning to transcribe charts and arrangements in Braille.
With blind classmate Calvin Scott, Carter in 1960 formed the duo Clarence & Calvin, signing to the Fairlane label to release "I Wanna Dance But I Don't Know How" the following year. After the 1962 release of "I Don't Know (School Girl)," Clarence & Calvin left Fairlane for the Duke imprint, renaming themselves the C & C Boys for their label debut, "Hey Marvin." In all, the duo cut four Duke singles, none of them generating more than a shrug at radio -- finally, in 1965 they traveled to Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL, paying $85 to record the wrenching ballad "Step by Step" and its flip side, "Rooster Knees and Rice." Atlanta radio personality Zenas Sears recommended Clarence & Calvin to Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, and the label issued "Step by Step" on its Atco subsidiary -- the record failed to chart, and the duo was once again looking for a label.
Backed by a four-piece combo dubbed the Mello Men, Clarence & Calvin spent the first half of 1966 headlining Birmingham's 2728 Club. One Friday night in June while returning home from the nightspot, the group suffered an auto accident that left Scott critically injured, initiating an ugly falling-out with Carter over the resulting medical bill. In the meantime, Carter continued as a solo act, signing to Hall's Fame label for 1967's "Tell Daddy," which inspired Etta James' response record, "Tell Mama." The superb popcorn-soul effort "Thread the Needle" proved a minor crossover hit, and after one additional Fame release, "The Road of Love," Carter returned to Atlantic with "Looking for a Fox," issued in early 1968. "Looking for a Fox" proved the first of many singles to slyly reference the singer's visual impairment, not to mention showcasing the libidinous impulses that dominate many of his most popular records.
But few performances better typified the emerging Carter aesthetic than "Slip Away," a superior cheating ballad spotlighting his anguished, massive baritone alongside the remarkably sinuous backing of Fame's exemplary backing band. The record was a Top Ten hit, and its follow-up, "Too Weak to Fight," also went gold, solidifying Carter's newfound commercial appeal. He ended 1968 with a superbly funky Christmas single, the raunchy "Back Door Santa," in addition to mounting a national tour featuring backing vocalist Candi Staton, who later became Carter's wife as well as a soul star in her own right.
The percolating "Snatching It Back" was Carter's first Atlantic release of 1969 -- its B-side, a remake of James Carr's deep soul classic "The Dark End of the Street," remains one of the singer's most potent efforts, drawing on traditional blues and gospel to explore both the absurdity and anguish of infidelity. Subsequent singles including "The Feeling Is Right," "Doing Our Thing," and "Take It Off Him and Put It on Me" were only marginally successful, but in 1970 Carter returned to the Top Ten with the sentimental "Patches," his biggest hit to date. He nevertheless stumbled again with a run of 1971 releases like "Getting the Bills" and "Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love," and in the wake of "If You Can't Beat 'Em" -- a duet with Staton -- Carter left Atlantic in 1972, returning to Fame with "Back in Your Arms Again."
Released in 1973, the leering "Sixty Minute Man" proved a novelty hit, but in 1975 he attempted to reignite his career at ABC, releasing "Take It All Off" and "Dear Abby" to little notice. By the end of the decade Carter was relegated to small independent labels like Future Stars and Ronn, and in 1980 signed to Venture for the ill-advised "Jimmy's Disco" and "Can We Slip Away Again?" In 1985 he resurfaced on the fledgling Ichiban label, returning to the ribald deep soul of his heyday -- the LP Dr. C.C. earned positive reviews and spawned the hilariously lewd "Strokin'," a major word-of-mouth hit. (A sequel, "Still Strokin'," followed in 1989.) Carter continued recording and touring regularly into the 21st century, maintaining a strong fan base throughout the South.