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Beach Buzz  - Special Edition 

  With The Soul Dog



Watching what had become a city landmark here in Raleigh, North Carolina being bulldozed away in the name of progress, to be replaced by new concrete and steel, reminded me of an almost forgotten story from long ago. After doing research as well as refreshing my own memory, the following is the best that I can tell it.



From Scarlet O'Hara's in Atlanta Underground in the '70's


How many Beach music fans remember Cortez Greer? A dynamic performer, the Chattanooga, TN native always put on a magnificent show. He fronted and travelled with several different band names during his career, including the Lifters, Disciples of Sound, New Breeds and Group Therapy. Cortez had some strong players at various times behind him in the bands - Ronnie Lane, Charlie Pope, Freddie Reynolds, George Cook, Freddie Sanders, Tommy Leopard, Bob Meier and Steve Childers, to name a few. From all accounts, 'Tez (as they often referred to him) loved all his band members like they were his own brothers. Greer gave us some killer Beach tunes such as Very Strong On You, The One That Got Away, Beautiful Things For You and I've Been Waiting.  Cortez and his band filled bookings all the way from Las Vegas (where he was billed as 'Mr. Excitement') to the Carolinas, New York, Ohio, Florida, overseas and beyond.



Recorded by Cortez Greer & The New Breeds

                         Written by Roy Smith and Billy Scott



A true people person, Cortez had an effervescent personality that made many friends and never failed to win over an audience. He seemed to be just as comfortable in a faraway locale sharing the stage with superstars as he was performing at The Partridge Inn in his adopted residence of Augusta, GA or at nearby Kitten's Korner. He was considered to be one of the best acts ever to perform at the fabled Atlanta Underground.  Revered in his hometown of Chattanooga, Greer's image is part of what is called the 'Big 9 Legends' mural, prominently displayed alongside such local music luminaries as Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald sideman Wilfred Middlebrooks. Telling the tragic story of his all too short life, however, involves a tale of another legendary figure whose life became somewhat mistakenly, as it turns out, intertwined with Greer's.


The 'House upon the Hill' – Belle Acres in Raleigh NC

The beautiful wooded hilltop that I mentioned above in what is now the center of Raleigh and the grandiose house (pictured above) that once adorned it are all gone now, razed for new development. The man that once owned the property was the stuff of folklore. His name was Kidd Brewer, born in Winston Salem, NC in 1908, one of nine children and the first in his family to go to college. He played multiple sports at Duke University, including being named All American for his feats on the gridiron. Brewer was the head football coach at Appalachian State in the '30's, led an undefeated and unscored upon team in 1937, so successful that the stadium there still bears his name. He later came to Raleigh, became a speculative purchaser of land, with a vision for buying up parcels that were eventually used to build new highways.


The lower pasture portion of the 115 acres where Brewer had built a showplace of a house in the Capital City was sold to develop Crabtree Valley Mall, which when completed in 1972 was the largest indoor shopping facility between Washington and Atlanta. Brewer, who was also an administrative assistant for two U.S. Senators, did some time in the federal joint after being convicted of bid rigging, but also ran for both lieutenant governor and the top office in the state during his political career.


Kidd Brewer circa late '30's



The house, built in 1956, and adjoining property (referred to by Brewer as Belle Acres) saw some good times, hosting lavish parties and events. It was a modern structure for its era, over 8,000 square feet, complete with both an indoor and adjoining outdoor swimming pool. The towering location, which  had an aura of mystery about it, also saw its share of tragedy. Brewer's son Kidd Jr., a professional diver and movie actor who had starred in a couple of James Cameron films, reportedly committed suicide while staying

in the adjoining barn/apartment on the property in 1990. Many years earlier, in November of 1976, the great singer Cortez Greer passed away while staying in Raleigh for a week-long set of nightclub performances. For years afterward, the rumor persisted and many folks still believe that his passing had occurred at the Kidd Brewer residence.


The official investigative report and newspaper articles surrounding Cortez' death tell a different story. He was in town for a series of six nightclub performances, staying not at Belle Acres but in the guest house behind the main residence of another prominent Raleigh family who were longtime friends of Greer's. The family was also a business associate of Kidd Brewer. The club owner where Cortez was booked later reported that the Monday and Tuesday night performances that he delivered were indeed strong. On Wednesday, however, Cortez felt very ill, complaining of nausea and dizziness. He was unable to perform that night, seeing a doctor that afternoon, who treated him for an inner ear infection. The physician was to follow up with him the next day but he did not show for the appointment. Cortez was found, expired in the guest house, with the temperature inside reportedly approaching 100 degrees. The death was ruled accidental due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas heater.



Cortez may have very well stayed at the Brewer residence on previous trips to Raleigh. He was certainly well known in the inner social circles that often was in attendance at events on the hill.  Somewhere along the way, not too long before his passing in 1991, Kidd Brewer decided that the house at Belle Acres would be put to better use as a commercial entity. It was converted into an upscale restaurant establishment, first called Crossroads and later It's Prime Only, which occupied the residence for several years. The house was vacated in the late-'90's before burning to the ground during the middle of the night in November of 2005.


Charlie Pope, Cortez Greer, Ronnie Lane and Freddie Reynolds                          in Lake Placid, New York



Cortez Greer was 36 years old when he passed, right in the prime of his career and on the cusp of major stardom. The story is all too familiar - great performing artists tragically gone long before their time  -  Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, David Ruffin, Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly, Billy Stewart, Bobby Darin, Jimi Hendrix, Frankie Lymon, Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston,  the list goes on and on. The good they often do die young, and those who knew him remember Cortez Greer as one of the absolute best!


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June 2013     

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