“When Steve Alaimo came back to Miami to join me in the record business he was working as a singer at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He was just coming off hosting a nationally broadcast tv show called Where The Action Is.
He had a song on the charts called “Everyday I Have To Cry.”
He worked the Copa Cabana in New York City doing a whole nightclub act. He was a fantastic act, getting stronger and stronger.
One day I get a call from him and he says, “Henry. I wanna come back to Miami and be with you in the record business.”
Clarence Reid is Blowfly. Blowfly is the world’s first rapper to cut a record. Blowfly raps dirty. Clarence Reid sings clean.
This has been a way of life since Clarence didn’t stand higher than a hooker’s hemline on a dusty road in Georgia.
Then he moved to Miami, Florida, joined the music industry, and started out playing nightclub gigs in Overtown with his band The Delmiras (sometimes spelled Delmyras or Delmirals).
At the time, NW 2nd Avenue was paved in gold, and lined with entertainment options, restaurants, lawyers, dress shops, haberdashers, photo studios, and all manner of economic activity.
As you can see above in the 1963 newspaper clipping shorn from the historic pages of the great Miami Times newspaper, Clarence Reid’s Delmirals were popular billing at Frank Legree’s Birdland alongside Dizzy Jones and his band, Downbeat Shorty, as well as Johnny G The Man Of Motion and Big Daddy “D.”
The Birdland was a club inside of the Mary Elizabeth Hotel, which was a pioneering establishment built by Dr W.B. Sawyer and his wife Alberta Sawyer. The Mary Elizabeth was the first first-class black hotel in Florida and it was built in 1923. After Dr Sawyer passed away, Alberta took over and ran this and all of their other businesses, which included at least two drug stores, and a slew of rental properties.
Frank Legree famously broke the color barrier in the all-white Orchard Villa section of Liberty City, and fought so that the KKK racists who burnt a cross on his lawn actually got arrested. He did this with the help of Father Theodore Gibson and Thurgood Marshall.
Dizzy Jones was a contemporary of Little Willie John, with whom he often performed in nightclub stage battles. Jones was a top notch saxophone player and even toured with Steve Alaimo, including a 4 month stand at a New York City club called the Round Table.
So as you can see, Clarence Reid and The Delmirals were a popular band working a hot scene in and amongst a historic crew of contemporaries who set a high bar for music, culture, and activism in Miami, the U.S., and the world.
For this, Henry Stone Music Inc. recognizes the greatness of Clarence Reid. And as Henry Stone used to always say: “Clarence Reid, what a fuckin’ characta, man. Clarence, Clarence, Clarence.”
Clarence Reid and The Delmiras recorded for Henry Stone’s DADE Records the classic early 60s Miami soul cuts “Push A Little Bit Harder,” b/w “Like White On Rice.”
“The Allman Brothers. When they met me, they were giggin down here in Miami. Little venues. Little rock and roll venues, just hustling yknow, and they uh, I guess from Steve Alaimo they heard about what we were tryin to do at TK. They came by my 8 track studio upstairs, not even 24 track yet, this is the early days. And they start like jammin around and we started using em. We used em on a few little rock sessions that Steve wanteda do, and then they end up sleeping, they had their car downstairs, and they end up sleeping upstairs in the studio, for a week or so, and we ended up cutting an album with them, with Duane and Greg, thats the name of the album. ”
“A lot of the white acts we didn’t bother with, but the Allman brothers was a whole different story. They came to me, we cut them. We recorded that one terrific album with the song “Melissa” on it, which by the way Steve Alaimo is a writer on. That was recorded upstairs on a little 8 track studio. We got a group that we’re selling pretty good the 31st of February, that’s the name of the group, and I think the Allman Brothers played the backup for the group. We formed that group. I made a deal with Vanguard Records to distribute it. I think Lawrence Welk bought the company and I dont know, we had a little correspondence with em, they said they found a contract from 1968 somethin like that. But we released that Allman Brothers on my Bold label, and we did very well with it. They still weren’t big yet but we sold quite a bit. It was Duane and Greg Allman yaknow. Still own that. We’re gonna put it out eventually. And that was the closest thing I came to rock and roll. Now as a distributor, Idistributed all Zeppelin, Cream, all the rock n roll sides as a distributor. I distributed all that product here in Florida, plus transshipping whatever I did trans shipping wise. But I’m a jazz guy at heart. Jazz and blues.”
“In the 1950’s there were three big disc jockeys in this country. There was Alan Freed in New York, Dick Clark In Philadelphia, and Bob Green in Miami. These three guys controlled all the hit records of the independents, and the majors too, cause there weren’t that many big hits on the majors at that time, it was all the independents.
I managed Bob Green. I was his manager. We became real tight. I was from the Bronx. Bob was from the Bronx. We hit it off. And I directed his career as a disc jockey. I told him what to play. I told him what to play and when to play it. And while he was playing all these great records, he became the number one disc jockey down here. And then we started to run the hops.
We ran hops and Steve Alaimo and his Redcoats were the house band. I used to run these dances with Bob.
We used to get these artists, and all the companies, they would send me Paul Anka, you name it, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, they would send em all down for nothing, just to get em’ on the Bob Green Show, cause they knew that if Bob was playing a record that Dick Clark would play the record or Alan Freed…It was like a whole combo thing. So they sent all the artists down to my hops, and I’ll never forget the first hop with Bob Green.
ABC sent Paul Anka, and we did fantastic, and I remember Bob was at the 1800 club, lived at the 1800 Club on Biscayne Boulevard somewhere. Bob lived there and I came in to give him his cut of the money. It was all singles, or 90 percent singles, and we started counting out the money and he had it spread all over his room. He said “I never saw so much money in my whole life!”
Y’know all those dolla dolla bills.
I had complete control of him financially, spiritually, radiowise, everything. We were buddies, we used to hang out together. We used to go to the track together, that kind of thing. Until, he married a chick by the name of Anita Bryant. I was best man at the wedding by the way, in Oklahoma. Yeah, Bob Green, that was a whole era.”
“End Records was partially Morris Levy’s label. END. It was between him and George Goldner. Goldner was quite a character. He’s the one that really put Morris in the business. George was the one that had “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.” Plus he had a lot of pretty big songs on top of that with his END and Gone record labels to name a couple.
George was a real character. I remember when he was married to this Latin chick. Mona. She used to chase him all over the country. She used to chase him at the conventions, knock on every door and say,
“Is George in here?! Motherfucker. I know he’s screwing around.”
Maybe he was at the bar havin a drink who knows. But anyway George, he and I were very cool, but he had his rules. Number one, he wouldn’t fly. So he used to make me get on the train with him and go to New York and we’d sit and play gin rummy the whole time. From Miami to New York. That’s the only time I went on a train. Actually, when I was in the army I went on a train.
Morris Levy wouldn’t fly either. Fear of flying. Morris used to drive to California in fact. George had these labels hooked up with Morris cause George used to be a huge gambler and used to go broke all the time and always needed money. He and Hymie Weiss from Old Towne Records used to go to the harness tracks in New York.
And when George was in Miami we’d take him to the track all the time. Tropical Park was it? Steve Alaimo and I took him to the track.
I’ll never forget one time when took him to the track. We were there at the track just goofin around, winning and losin ya know. And George musta blown $20,000 dollars. Cause that’s the way he used to bet. I used to bet ten dollas, twenty dollas yaknow. So George is tapped out, so he goes to Steve, the last fifty dollas that Steve Alaimo has, and he says,
“Steve lend me fifty dollas.”
Steve says, “Whattaya crazy man? ya gonna blow it. That’s hot dog money and to get home.”
But George was so convincing that Steve gave him the fifty bucks and George put it on a trifecta, the last race or somethin, Baboom. It came in. And God knows how many thousands of dollars he hit on that trifecta. George was a weird cat, man, funny cat.”
When Steve Alaimo was in college he had a band called the Redcoats. Around that time, he started hangin’ around with me as a promotion man, sort of a hangaround guy, and I’d take him up to Ernie Busker’s place, the Palms Of Hallandale to see BB King and James Brown. I think it really influenced his sound and the way he sung and the way he performed. Man, Steve was great on stage.
Later I got him on as the opener for James Brown for a stadium show in Miami, and after the gig James said to me “Don’t ever let that whiteboy on before me again.” That’s how good Steve was. James didn’t want him stealing any of his thunder.
When he was first starting out he played rooms like The Eden Roc on Miami Beach and later the big room at the Diplomat Hotel. He was doing standards, show tunes, good ol music, yaknow…music.
William Morris was the first agency to handle him and one of his first agents was Famous Amos. That’s what he did before the cookies, he was Steve’s talent agent at the William Morris Agency.
I’d say that Steve was really the first blue eyed soul singer to come along yaknow.