R.I.P. Southern Soul "Gentle Giant," Clifford Curry

Share this article

    (September 15, 2016) The Southeastern Soul & R&B Community lost their best friend: Clifford Curry passed away.

    (September 15, 2016) The Southeastern Soul & R&B Community lost their best friend: Clifford Curry passed away.

    September 7 marked the passing of a beloved friend and legend. Knoxville, Tennessee native Clifford Curry left his mark on folks ears, hearts and  memories with his Rhythm and Blues/Soul classics, and his larger than life personality. Clifford, known as “Sweet Clifford and The Gentle Giant,” stood 6’5” and wore a perpetual smile on his face and in his eyes. Even in the midst of his worst health scares - and he’s had many health problems in the last ten to fifteen years - Clifford remained  genuine, caring, strong, upbeat and more concerned over a friend’s welfare than his own. It was such a natural thing for Clifford to pick up the phone or a pen, call or write a friend or musician who was ill or happened on bad times. He was a survivor for so long, especially in the sometimes cruel music business, where ruthlessness was the usual order of the day. He resided in Nashville for many years, where he was known for his songwriting, vocals, performing, and his warmth, love and kindness for people.

    He begin his career in Knoxville while attending Austin High School. His vocal group was The Echos. The group backed R&B vocalist Faye Williams on “Shake A Hand.” The Echos later changed their name to the Five Pennies.

    After graduation and recording six sides for Savoy Records, in 1956 Clifford joined The Fabulous 6, his first intergrated band, comprised of Knoxville natives. The group gained attention in the area. It was in 1959 that Clifford earned the name “Sweet Clifford” and became a front man for this group and for The Contenders Featuring Clifford Curry.

    1959, The Bubba Suggs Band passed through Knoxville, and Clifford sang with this group until 1964-65. He went out on his own and recorded solo sides for Excello Records. In Knoxville, a radio deejay named Rob Galbraith of WNOK-M fame, who also was a songwriter, befriended Clifford and the result was meeting with Buzz Cason, who signed Clifford to his Elf Label in 1966.

    Things really took off for Clifford in 1967, a turning point in his career, as this was the year he recorded his double sided hit singles,and most well known classics: “She Shot A Hole In My Soul”and “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves in The Morning.” The songs blew up over in the Carolinas and made deejays and hosts flip the 45 rpm single record over and over, due to the appeal of both songs. Both songs charted on Billboard’s Top 100 singles, with “She Shot a Hole in My Soul” going to #45.

    Clifford’s wrote and recorded for several more labels in the next thirty to forty years. One of his finest recentreleases is on Off Row Records, 2010's The Soul Of The Clifford Curry, produced by Bruce Dees and Clayton Ivey. All but one song on the album are written or co-written by Clifford, some with his musician friends Ricky Godfrey and Steve Bassett. The clever Clifford-penned “Stacked in The Back,” a stand out tune, was re-recorded on this album. His more current singles “Cold Beer, Hot Women” and "Booze Cruise” with meaty, powerful sounding blues guitar riffs, are getting airplay and internet play on the Blues, Soul and “Beach” markets, and also in the clubs and parties in the Southeast and in the UK, in the “Northern Soul” Market.

    With Sweet Clifford’s passing, there a huge void to fill; an era passed along with Clifford. Now it’s our turn to say to our genuine, sweet, loving friend Clifford, to use his favorite phrase at the end of a conversation (and he really meant it), "May God Bless You.” 

    By Cassie CJ Fox

    "Soul Of The Blues With Cassie CJ Fox " on Our Generation Radio.Com WOGR-DB  & Spice Internet Radio.Com 
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/cassie.j.fox 
    Web: www.cassiejfox.webs.com  www.sszonline.com 

    Funeral Arrangements: Clifford Curry-Saturday-September 17- Visitation/Viewing -10am-12 Noon- His Funeral service starts at 12 Noon at Overcomers Believers Church (OBC ) on 211 Harriett Tubman Street-Knoxville,Tenn.37915 to be followed by a Burial and Celebration of Life.