He was originally known as Curtis Clements having come to England when he was 15. During his youth, he and two white friends got in trouble with the police and were charged with theft. Curtis was the only one who received a custodial sentence. Prior to The Foundations, he was an interior decorator and became a professional boxer, winning most of his fights. One day his uncle told him that the lead singer of The Ramong Sound, Raymond Morrison was looking for a back up singer (or singers), so he joined the group. Prior to that, Curtis's singing experience was limited to singing at parties. When Morrison was detained for six months at the pleasure of Her Majesty, another singer Arthur Brown was brought in. The band was then fronted by Curtis and Brown. Brown only stayed for around 6 weeks and when he left, Curtis became the lead singer. Curtis sang lead on the hits, "Baby, Now That I've Found You", "Back on My Feet Again" and " Any Old Time You're Lonely and Sad". He also sang on the first two Foundations albums, "From the Foundations" (Pye NPL 18296) and "Rocking the Foundations" (Pye NSPL.18227). He also sang lead on a couple of EP only songs, "Its All Right" from the EP of the same title and "a live version of 96 Tears" from the "Baby, Now That I've Found You" EP.
It is possible that in 1968, he had recorded other songs with the band but his vocals were stripped and replaced with vocals by Colin Young who would replace him in 1968. On the self titled "The Foundations - The Foundations" album ( Marble Arch MALS 1157) which features Colin Young on lead, there appears to be the ghosting of his voice on "Tomorrow" and one other Song. Some of the tracks on the album with vocals by Young appear to have the same instrumental backing as the tracks he sang on.
Having left the group in 1968, he began his solo career recording "Marie Take a Chance" / Caravan" and had relocated to the US. Coming back to England in the early 70s, he recorded for Pye, beginning with "Mountain Over the Hill" / "Time Alone Will Tell", released in 1971 and " I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)" / "Point Of No Return", released in 1972. That single is now a very popular Northern Soul item. Other singles followed and leading his version of The Foundations, they came 3rd in the Eurovision 77 with "Where Were You When I Needed Your Love?" . They were picked to be the winners but due to a strike by the electricians, they were not televised which ruined their chances. Throughout the remainder of the 1970s to the 1980s, he continued to record releasing solo singles or with Clem Curtis & The Foundations. In the late 1980s, he was a member of The Corporation (The Travelling Wrinklies) and they had a minor hit with " Ain't Nothing But A House Party". In the 1990s, he teamed up with original Foundations guitarist, Alan Warner (2), musicians Andy Bennett (8), Vince Cross and producer Keith Bateman . They re-recorded the Foundations' old hits, plus some new songs including., "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay", "Let's Stay Together", and a Cuttie Williams' song "Keep On Loving You" which appeared on their release, The Foundations - Greatest Hits. Working with Nixon Rosembert, he also recorded a singe "Miss You Baby" (Toucan Tango 1999) which didn't get a release.
During the 2000s, his vocals appeared on ...Native Hipsters* - There Goes Concorde Again..., singing the chorus of "Mr. Magic", as well as on the Various - Back To The Future album, with his version of Simply Red's "Something's Got Me Started". He recorded more songs which resulted in the release of Lord Large Feat. Clem Curtis - Stuck In A Wind Up / Move Over Daddy. It was first released on 2 Bit and then the Acid Jazz label. "Stuck In a Wind Up" has become popular on the Northern Soul scene and appears on various compilations. Some other songs he recorded with Lord Large appear on Lord Large - The Lord's First XI. Throughout the rest of the 2000's Curtis was a popular live attraction as well as being known for his impromptu appearances at the Onley Wine Bar. He contributed one song, "Dial My Number" to the "Northern Soul 2010" album which was released in 2010. On January 28th, 2017, two months before his death, still suffering from pneumonia, he left hospital to appear on stage with Earnestine Pearce and Jimmy James (2).
He was married to Russian jazz singer and pianist Elena Safonova. Various sources point to Hot Chocolate percussionist Derek Lewis as being his brother.
Singles & EPs
|Clem Curtis||Mountain Over The Hill (Single)||Pye Records||UK||1971||Sell This Version|
|Clem Curtis||I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do) / Point Of No Return||Pye Records||UK||1972||Sell This Version|
|EMI 2159||Clem Curtis||I Don't Care What People Say (7", Promo)||EMI||EMI 2159||UK||1974||Sell This Version|
|Clem Curtis||Unchained Melody / Need Your Love||RCA Victor||UK||1979||Sell This Version|
|Clem Curtis||Dancing In The Street||Pressure Records (2), Blackmarketing||UK||1983||Sell This Version|
|Lord Large Feat. Clem Curtis||Lord Large Feat. Clem Curtis - Stuck In A Wind Up / Move Over Daddy (Single)||Acid Jazz||UK||2005||Sell This Version|
|Clem Curtis||Marie Take A Chance / Caravan (Single)||Imperial||US||Unknown||Sell This Version|
|103||Big Joe Turner / Clem Curtis||Big Joe Turner / Clem Curtis - I Walked A Lonely Mile / Unchained Melody (7", Promo, RE)||Rhythm Records (29)||103||Unknown||Sell This Version|