Clarence Carter

Dublin Core


Clarence Carter


Montgomery, Montgomery County, FAME Studios, Candi Staton, Rick Hall, Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama State College, Rock music, R&B music, Blues music, Soul music, Grammy Awards


Clarence Carter (January 14, 1936 - )

The best way to describe Clarence Carter’s style is that he is a soul and blues preacher of love, most specifically, the cheating kind. Carter’s vocals, at times soaring and at times down in the gutter, combined with a mischievous chuckle that threatens to reveal more that it should, makes him a truly unique individual in the blues and soul world. Clarence Carter was born on January 14, 1936, in Montgomery, Alabama. Blind at birth, Clarence was a student at Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega, Alabama, and later matriculated at Alabama State College (now University) in Montgomery, earning a degree in music. Teaming with a fellow ASC student, Calvin Scott, who was also blind, they formed the singing duo of Clarence & Calvin, later renamed the C & C Boys. Recording first for Fairlane Records, then Duke Records, their recordings failed to have much success. In 1965, they traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record at FAME Studios with owner/producer Rick Hall. The song “Step By Step” caught the ear of executives with Atlantic Records, who signed the duo and released the song as a single. While it, too, generated little buzz, “Step By Step” saw the beginning of a collaboration between Carter and Hall which would prove to be most successful. Shortly after the release of “Step By Step,” Scott was seriously injured in an auto accident, effectively ending the duo of Carter and Scott. Clarence continued as a solo act, recording albums for Hall’s Fame label at FAME Studios. 1967 saw Clarence release, “Tell Daddy,” his first hit, reaching #35 on the R&B chart. The song was recorded a year later, as “Tell Mama,” by Etta James, and was her biggest pop hit. The success of the song led to Clarence signing with Atlantic Records, and resulted in a string of hits, starting with “Slip Away” (#2-R&B, 1968), “Too Weak to Fight” (#3-R&B, 1968), and “Patches” (#2-R&B, 1970). By the mid-1970s, with disco coming on the scene, Clarence’s career began to take a downward turn. It wasn’t until the 1985 that he began what can be considered a comeback, signing with Ichiban Records based in Atlanta, Georgia, and releasing the album “Dr. C.C.,” which features the risqué single, “Strokin’.” Leaving Ichiban Records for his own label, Cee Gee Entertainment, Clarence has continued to record and release albums well into the 2010’s. Presented with the Governor’s Achievement Award for Popular Music in 1989 by the governor of Alabama and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Clarence was inducted into the Hall in 2003.

Watch and Listen:
"Strokin'" WARNING: NSFW
"Back Door Santa"
"Slip Away"


John Griffin, University of North Alabama


“Clarence Carter” Accessed December 1, 2016
“Soul Blue Music – Clarence Carter” Accessed December 1, 2016
“FAME Studios history” Accessed December 1, 2016

All images courtesy of Mr. George Lair and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, unless otherwise noted.


Alabama Cultural Resource Survey




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