Monday, June 26, 2017

The Dave Clark Five

The Dave Clark Five (DC5) was formed in North London in the early sixties. Dave Clark (drums and vocals) was a former film stuntman and Mike Smith (organ and vocals) had been a junior for Tottenham Hotspur. The rest of the band were Lenny Davidson (lead guitar and formerly The Off Beats, The Impalas), Rick Huxley (bass guitar ex The Riverside Blues Boys, The Spon Valley Stompers), and Denny Payton ( tenor and baritone saxophones, harmonica and guitar and formerly The Renegades, The Les Heath Combo, The Blue Dukes, The Mike Jones Combo). The group was unique in that it was not an exclusively guitar-based sound and had their front man their drummer and the lineup included a saxophone. The band was firm favourites in the London clubs and Mike Smith had a good singing voice. The group, managed by Dave Clark, were promoted as the 'Tottenham Sound', and rival to the Mersey Sound and soon got a recording contract. After a few attempts at the charts their first hit was a cover of the Contour's "Do You Love Me" (1963).

It was a minor sensation but the follow up single "Glad All Over" (1964) was a phenomenon. 'Glad All Over', was written by Mike Smith and Dave Clark and went to number one in the UK and US displacing the Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

Follow up single "Bits and Pieces" gave the DC5 their second number one hit (1964) and many thought the Beatles had a serious rival. In the UK “Bits and Pieces” was banned from being played at live performances because of the fear frantic jumping fans could damage dance hall floors.

In the US they played to sell-out crowds and were heavily promoted as having a "cleaner" image than the Beatles. Despite this there was slight controversy when it was claimed Dave Clark did not always plays drums on their recordings. However at the time it was not unusual for session musicians to step in and play complex pieces which the stars were incapable of playing. Dave Clark 5 was not a good drummer and the recording sessions were held in a closed studio, primarily to protect the secret that accomplished session players were used on the records. In any case other successful singles followed in 1964, "Can’t You See That She’s Mine" and "Because." (#3) and the Dave Clark Five made 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, more than any other UK group.

After the success of the Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night (1964), the Dave Clark 5 released their own film, Catch Us If You Can (directed by John Boorman) in 1965. The film was called Having a Wild Weekend in the US. The film's title song "Catch Us If You Can" was co-written by Dave Clark and the lead guitar player, Lenny Davidson.

More hits followed with "Over And Over" (1965), and "You Got What It Takes" (1967).

Between 1964 and 1967, the Dave Clark Five had 17 records in Billboard's Top 40 and 12 in the UK charts. The major hits dried up after 1967 and their efforts to embrace the prevailing trend of psychedelia were not successful. The group disbanded in 1970 and in 1972, Dave Clark stopped drumming after he broke four knuckles in a tobogganing accident. Dave Clark owned exclusive rights to the group's recordings and set up a media company after he acquired the rights to ABC 'Ready, Steady, Go! in the 80s, he later made a fortune with the royalties from reruns in the US.

Dave attended drama college and later wrote a science fiction stage musical, Time, which debuted in 1986. It played for two years in London's West End, starring Cliff Richard (replaced later by David Cassidy). It also launched a concept album called Time which featured Richard, Freddie Mercury, Leo Sayer, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick, sold two million copies and provided multiple hit singles.

Mike Smith continued working with Clark in the early 1970s to help him fulfill contractual commitments, as "Dave Clark & Friends." Smith & Clark released cover versions of popular hits such as "Rub It In," "Sweet City Woman," and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye). When these failed to attract attention of the record buying public they split in 1973.

Mike continued as a producer and song writer and collaborated with singer Mike D’Abo (Manfred Mann) releasing one self-titled album.

Based in the Costa del Sol, he later formed the Mike Smith's Rock Engine which was made up of semi retired musicians. The group made several live performances to much critical acclaim. After a tragic fall Mike Smith was left with severe injury to his spinal cord causing paralysis from the waist down on the left side and in his right arm. He died in 2008 aged of 64, from pneumonia. Saxophonist, Denis Payton died in 2006 after a long battle with cancer aged 63. Rick Huxley died in 2013, at the age of 72, after suffering from emphysema for some years.

Worth a listen:

Glad All Over" (1964)
Bits and Pieces (1964)
Because" (1964)
Catch Us If You Can" (1965)
Over And Over (1965)
Everybody Knows (1967)

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