Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Dave Clark Five

Tottenham is a suburb just north of London. In 1960 this town was home to  a local soccer team, The Tottenham Highspurs. It is to this team that we owe a debt of gratitude for the second big British Invasion group after The Beatles to storm American  shores. This soccer team was in a financial bind prompting one of the players, Dave Clark to start a band in order to make some money. Clark brought himself a set of drums, taught himself to play them and put together the group that would become The Dave Clark Five.
They started out as The Dave Clark Quartet, Clark on drums, guitarist Dave Sanford, bassist Chris Walls, and keyboardist/arranger Don Vale. They were originally the backing band for North London singer Stan Saxon. As time went on, the group played more and more on their own , slowly building a local following.

Sanford, Walls and Vale left the band over time to be replaced by Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley, and Mike Smith respectively with the addition of  Dennis Payton on saxophones. Mike Smith took over lead vocalist duties when the band eventually split with Saxon in 1962. It was in February of 1964 that the band, after several misses, had a huge hit with the song "Glad All Over" which knocked the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand " out of the #1 spot on the U.K. singles chart. The song peaked at #6 in the U.S. Shortly after they became the second British Invasion act to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show where they performed the hit. This would be the first of 18 subsequent appearances on the show.

After the success of the Beatles' film A Hard Days Night, The Dave Clark Five released their own film Catch Us If You Can, which was directed by John Boorman. The U.S. release of the film was titled Having A Wild Weekend. The band was promoted as representatives of "The Tottenham Sound" as a response to "The Mersey Beat" sound of Brian Epstein's stable of acts. They were a successful touring act, one of the first, in fact from Britain to extensively tour the U.S. They were also touted as a "cleaner" version of the Beatles, even though in appearance and musical influence they were quite similar, and their sound actually a bit rougher than the Fab Four.

It should be noted that Dave Clark, in addition to forming, leading and writing for this band, he was also the manager and executive producer of The Dave Clark Five. He formed a media company and negotiated business deals that among other things allowed him production control and ownership of all the group's master tapes, which any astute  musical artist will tell you, is one of the first rules in being successful in this particular vocation. Musical creation and the business of music are two very different animals, the taming of one has no bearing on the ability to tame the other as too many musicians have learned to their regret. Dave Clark was one of the few musicians who had the opportunity and ability to look after the band's interests.

Hits like "Because", "Bits And Pieces", "I Like It Like That" and "Over And Over" kept the Dave Clark Five at or near the top of the charts from 1963 to 1970 when the group disbanded. All told, they had 17 hits in the U.S. They were actually a bigger attraction in the U.S. than in their native England for that period, but enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the U.K. during the period of  1967 to 1970. On December 17,2006 saxophonist  Dennis Payton died after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 63. Keyboardist/vocalist Mike Smith returned to performing putting together Mike Smith's  Rock Engine in 2003. They did two short tours in the U.S. and Smith made an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman substituting for bandleader Paul Schaffer as Schaffer himself was the guest host that night. In September of 2003 Smith suffered a spinal cord injury from a fall at his home leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. On February 28,2008 he died of pneumonia. Two weeks later on March 10,2008, The Dave Clark Five were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

No comments:

Post a Comment