Clarence Reid and The Delmiras, Miami’s R&B Soul Sensations

Miami Times newspaper clipping

via Miami Times – Miami Dade Library Collection

Clarence Reid was born in Georgia.

When he was young, he walked to Miami, Florida and joined the music industry, starting out playing nightclubs in Overtown with his band The Delmiras (sometimes spelled Delmyras or Delmirals, or even Delmiros).

At the time, NW 2nd Avenue was paved in gold, and lined with entertainment options.

As you can see above in the 1963 newspaper clipping 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; 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 called “The first first-class black hotel in Florida,” and it was built in 1923. After Dr. W.B. 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 among 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.” Reid cut thousands of takes and wrote hundreds of originals for various record labels under Henry Stone’s companies over a period of decades. His biggest hits were as a songwriter for artists like Betty Wright and Gwen McCrae.


©Jake Katel. All Rights Reserved




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