“I Was There When Clarence Reid Wrote “Cleanup Woman,” Says Vanessa Wilcox

Vanessa Wilcox Remembers Clarence Reid – January 2016 – ©Jacob Katel

Vanessa Wilcox used to sing background vocals at TK Records. She was friends with Clarence Reid, and classmates with Betty Wright. And she saw Tone Distributors grow from a funky warehouse to a “marvelous” recording studio. Here’s what she had to say about coming in with Rico, recording with Blowfly, and watching Clarence on the piano.

“My name is Vanessa Wilcox. I’m actually one of Betty Wright’s classmates. And I was sitting with Clarence when he was writing a song in the studio about the Cleanup Woman. And I used to do background vocals for him at TK Records. Even on his album The Blowfly.

Even when it became a big studio from a little small warehouse, I was there from the beginning hanging around. I met Clarence through coming through the studio with a man by the name of Rico Sanders. He was Mr. Stone’s right hand man, and Latimore. Latimore and him was friends. So I used to just come in at the age of 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 24, 28. I used to have a good time. I saw an old warehouse turn into something marvelous.

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Willie Clarke’s Million Selling Alston Records “Cleanup Woman” Plaque

My favorite Clarence Reid song? Well, he had so many. I just enjoyed them all to tell the truth. Even the times when he would make us really laugh, because he would say, “Aright, if I’m doing Blowfly. I’m Blowfly, not Clarence.” I said, “OK Clarence.” But it was so much fun hanging with him.

Most of the time I was the girl that was able to open the door and just enjoy the scenery. That’s what fun I had. And then to know that Clarence was the main instrument for Betty Wright, my classmate who did the song “Cleanup Woman.”

I was there when Clarence was writing the lyrics, at TK, in the studio. He went to the piano and said, “Hey Vanessa come here. I want you to listen to something.” And the song that he started playing was the Cleanup Woman, and he said, “I’m writing this for Betty. And she walked in and she was so surprised to see me. And I turned around and said, “Hi Betty,” and she said, “Hi Vanessa.” But that was one of her biggest hits. Clarence was a part of that.”

©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.


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