Passings: Clem Curtis, Lead Singer For The Foundations (1940 – 2017)
by VVN Music
Clem Curtis, the unique voice who led The Foundations on Baby, Now That I Found You, died earlier today (March 27) at the age of 76. No cause of death has been announced although his family confirmed his passing.
Curtis was born in Trinidad and moved to England at the age of 15. He was originally an interior decorator and, later, a professional boxer before finding his way into the music business.
Clem first joined the London based band The Ramong Sound which played British R&B and Ska. Originally just a backup singer, he eventually made it to sharing leads with Raymond "Ramong" Morrison. Over time, they went through numerous name changes from The Ramong to the Foundation Squad, the Foundation Sound and, finally, The Foundations.
In early 1967, the group was seen at a small club in Bayswater, London by record dealer Barry Class who became their manager and hooked them up with producer Tony Macauley at Pye Records. McCauley had them record the song Baby, Now That I've Found You which he had written with John Macleoud.
Released during the summer of 1967, the record didn't initially catch on until the BBC started their new, pop oriented, Radio 1 which was looking for music that was not being played by the pirate radio stations. By November, they were at number 1 in the U.K. and 11 in America, being recognized as the first British act to effectively channel the American soul sound along with being the first multi-racial British band to top the charts.
The Foundations next two singles would fail to live up to the promise of the first. Back on My Feet Again peaked at number 18 while Any Old Time (You're Lonely and Sad) only made 48.
Curtis made the decision to leave the band, feeling that members were not giving their full effort with their new found success. He did stay to audition new lead singers with the band eventually settling on Colin Young who would have international fame with his first single for the group, Build Me Up, Buttercup.
Clem initially tried to put together a solo career in America but returned to England in 1970 where he worked with a number of audiences before forming a new version of The Foundations who broke up in 1970. At first, he tried to revive their recording career but, after no success, started hitting the oldies circuit. A lawsuit was also brought against Curtis by a competing version of the group led by Colin Young with Curtis eventually taking possession of the name.
In 1988, Curtis was also part of a group called The Corporation, also known as The Traveling Wrinkles, a parody of The Traveling Wilburys. While they may not have had the name power of the latter band, the lineup did include Curtis, Mike Pender (Searchers), Brian Poole (Tremeloes), Tony Crane and Reg Presley (Troggs).
Curtis also branched out into acting, taking on the role of the Cowardly Lion in the West End production of The Wiz.
Along with the Foundations, Clem also put out a number of solo records for United Artists, Pye, EMI and RCA.