R.I.P. Clem Curtis, lead singer of The Foundations

Clem Curtis, former lead singer of the popular British soul group, The Foundations, has died at age 76 after a battle with cancer. The Foundations will forever be remembered for their classic hit, “Build Me Up Buttercup,” a song that still resonates a half century later.

Curtis 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.

Clem Curtis, former lead singer of the popular British soul group, The Foundations, has died at age 76 after a battle with cancer. The Foundations will forever be remembered for their classic hit, “Build Me Up Buttercup,” a song that still resonates a half century later.

Curtis 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.

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 and 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)".

Internal problems occurred in The Foundations, and in 1968 Curtis and Mike Elliott left the group, 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.

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 has recorded and released records on various record labels, including EMI, Opium, Pye Records, RCA Records, Riverdale, and others. 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. They released a single "Ain't Nothing But A House Party" on the Corporation label in 1988.

Curtis has 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.

Curtis continued to record and perform into the 21st century, working on the oldies circuit, and continuing to entertain audiences even as he entered his 70s.

 

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Clem Curtis 

Many thanks to Gary Van den Bussche of DSG for letting us know.

 
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