KNOXVILLE (WATE) – R&B star and Knoxville music icon, Clifford Curry died Wednesday afternoon at University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Curry made a name for himself in the 50s and 60s as a singer of Carolina beach music. He had recently suffered a stroke.
“He’s a legend in Knoxville,” said Jeff Jarnigan of WIVK. “I don’t know a day that Clifford Curry was not one of the most notable music names here in East Tennessee.”
Referred to as The King of Beach Music, Clifford Curry was best known for his 1967 hit She Shot a Hole in My Soul. He graduated from Austin High School where he started singing with a group of Bearden High School students. A little over a decade later, ‘She Shot a Hole in My Soul’ got the #45 spot on R&B charts and a star was born.
“When you put him in perspective in his era with Smokey Robinson and all those guys in the 60s, he was a big name in the 60s music,” said Jarnigan.
Curry performed around the southeast, continuing to record and make friends with other artists like Ronnie Millsap, who was a dear friend of Curry’s for more than 50 years.
“I love Clifford Curry,” Milsap said. “Probably the sweetest man I’ve ever known.”
Curry has continued to perform and record new music, frequently making appearances in Knoxville.
“He just seemed to connect with the people. He always knew how to do that,” said Milsap. “Whether it was with a dance record or an R&B song, he just knew how to connect with an audience.”
Jarnigan said Curry always stayed close to home.
“He gave back a lot to Knoxville,” Jarnigan said. “I mean, he could have lived anywhere in the country, he could have done anything he wanted to do, and he came back here and was part of our community. I think that will be a big thing in his legacy.”
“I think the soul lives on,” said Milsap. “He’s going to heaven to be with Jesus and we’ll miss him.”