A rock band from California
The accessible pop sound of the Dave Clark Five, with its driving percussion and chanting vocals, made it one of the most popular "British invasion" bands of the mid-1960s. A savvy publicity campaign promoting their rivalry with the Beatles stimulated sales and generated a string of hits for the band from 1964 to 1966 that was second only to the Fab Four. During their career, the Dave Clark Five sold an estimated 50 million records and had 30 hit singles worldwide.
While guitar riffs were the focus of most British pop bands of the time, drums drove the Dave Clark Five. Their strong percussion section was characteristic of the so-called "Tottenham Sound" that differed from popular Merseyside, London, groups like the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The band's strong identification with this sound would cause their popularity to wane when psychedelic rock and other new trends began drawing listeners in the late 1960s. The Dave Clark Five's extremely clean-cut image also hurt their career during the rise of "bad boy" groups like the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks, which had more raw appeal.
The Dave Clark Five was created in 1958, an attempt by a young Tottenham football player named Dave Clark to help fund his team's traveling expenses. He and soon-to-be bassist Chris Walls ran an ad in Melody Maker to locate other musicians. After the ad brought in rhythm guitarist Rick Huxley, Stan Saxon as singer and saxophonist, and Mike Ryan on lead guitar, the "Dave Clark Five featuring Stan Saxon" was born.
By 1961, Walls and Ryan had left the group and Huxley had moved to cover bass guitar. Denis Payton joined the band as a saxophonist. And Lenny Davidson, former lead guitarist for the Impalas, also came on board, bringing with him lead vocalist/keyboardist Mike Smith. Backed by ten years of classical piano lessons, Smith was the only member of the group with formal musical training.
By 1962, the Dave Clark Five had developed some renown as a live band. The group landed a contract to play regularly on England's popular Mecca ballroom chain. The rigors of three- hour, nightly performances on the circuit honed the group's skills during the next few years; they would win the Mecca circuit's Gold Cup for the best live band in the United Kingdom in 1963.
However, 1963 would be a mixed year. The award from Mecca came on the heel of a bitter disappointment over their cover recording of the Contours' "Do You Love Me?" After its release, the song would only make it to the Number 30 spot on the British charts after a version of the same song by Brian Poole and the Tremeloes released around the same time hit Number One and upstaged them. The turning point for the group came in December with the release of "Glad All Over."
Soaring to Number One in the United Kingdom early the following year and selling over two and a half million records, the song was also a smash in the United States, leading Epic Records to plan an American tour for the band. Two consecutive appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and several coast-to-coast tours sealed the group's popularity in the American market, which would turn out to be a far more lucrative one for them than Europe. The Dave Clark Five would log up 18 appearances on Ed Sullivan, the most ever by any British act.
As in "Glad All Over," Clark's pounding drum sticks were the hallmark of "Bits and Pieces," the group's follow-up hit. At this point, the group finally decided to turn professional. The Dave Clark Five would have a succession of 12 more American Top Twenty hits, reaching their popularity peak in the United States with their Number One hit "Over and Over" in 1965. Due to a tremendous demand for their music in the United States, the group released 14 American albums; only four would reach British audiences from 1964 to 1967. Many of the group's songs distributed in the United States never even received airplay in Britain.
In addition to composing most of the group's songs with co- writer Smith, Clark wielded extensive control over the group's recording activities and promotion. "I knew the sort of sound we wanted," he explained in his liner notes for 1993's The History of the Dave Clark Five. "It was like being a conductor: build it up here, slow it down there, change it before they get bored. This is where the experience we gained earlier as a live band became invaluable." More skilled as a businessman than as a musician, Clark maneuvered business deals far more sophisticated than those usually made by pop groups of his day. He established and ran a company to publish the Dave Clark Five's compositions, and secured a deal giving the group higher royalties than those earned by the Beatles. In his contract, Clark shrewdly inserted a clause granting him ownership of the group's recordings after the licensing period, a highly unusual practice for the time.
Clark kept his band in the public eye by touring relentlessly around the world, and the group was in continual demand as stage performers even after they had stopped generating new hit songs. He jumped onto the movie bandwagon in 1965, and the result was the critically acclaimed Catch Us If You Can. Released as Having a Wild Weekend in the United States, the film is a bittersweet comedy that deals with the stress that follows a rock group's sudden fame. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times called it the best young generation film of its era, and it was one Great Britain's Top Twenty box-office attractions of the year.
Ahead of his time, Clark foresaw the music video, producing and directing a promotional film for the song "Nineteen Days," which was showcased on Ed Sullivan in 1966. He later produced and directed the short film Hits in Action, which highlighted a series of Dave Clark Five hits and was shown in theaters around the globe. Clark wrote, produced, and directed Hold On- -It's The Dave Clark Five, an award-winning special for British television that featured the group performing various songs.
Despite the continual momentum of touring, recording, and television appearances organized by Clark, the Dave Clark Five began to lose its popularity around 1966. As the group held its musical ground, it was left behind by groups eager to follow the trend towards more mystical sounds. They made a brief comeback in 1967 when their cover of Marv Johnson's 1959 hit, "You Got What It Takes," made it to Number Seven on the U.S. charts. Later that year, "Everybody Knows (I Still Love You)," featuring a rare lead vocal by Davidson, climbed to the Number Two spot in the United Kingdom.
A solitary attempt at psychedelia by the group was "Inside and Out," a song originally written for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet but that didn't make it into the film's soundtrack. "Inside and Out" was a mix of bold string arrangements and a dominant fuzz guitar that sounded like the Beatles's "I Am the Walrus." But ultimately, they were unwilling to adapt to new tastes and new technology, and until their breakup in 1970, the group met with only sporadic success.
After the demise of the Dave Clark Five, Clark and Smith continued to release singles as Dave Clark & Friends until 1973. Smith also collaborated with Mike D'Abo, onetime vocalist for Manfred Mann. Payton entered the real estate business, Huxley got into electronics, and Davidson became an antiques dealer. Clark continued with production work and had a major success with 1978's 25 Thumping Great Hits, a collection of the group's songs that went platinum.
In the 1980s Clark co-wrote and produced the British musical Time, starring Cliff Richard and Sir Laurence Olivier. The show broke box-office records for London's West End, and Clark produced the soundtrack that featured Olivier, Richard, Freddie Mercury, Julian Lennon, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Ashford & Simpson, and Stevie Wonder. In 1992, Clark co-wrote and produced two songs for Mercury that would have triple-platinum sales worldwide.
Although many rock critics considered the Dave Clark Five lightweight, their music has been claimed as inspiration by guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. The group will be remembered for their highly polished stage performances and for the relentless urgency with which they delivered their material. According to the liner notes for 1993's The History of The Dave Clark Five, the group displayed "a mastery of the elusive art of compressing the sheer power, excitement, and emotion of the best rock 'n' roll into a two-to-three minute single."
by Ed DeckerDave Clark Five, The's Career
Group formed in 1958, in Tottenham, London; originally named the Dave Clark Five Featuring Stan Saxon; signed long-term contract with Mecca ballroom chain, London, 1961; signed with Picadilly Records (Congress Records in U.S.), London, 1962; sold first instrumental song, "Chaquita," to Ember Records, 1962; signed with Columbia (Epic in U.S.), 1963; appeared in film Catch Us If You Can (Having a Wild Weekend in U.S.), 1965; formed Big Five Films (production company), London, 1965; Clark produced music video for "Nineteen Days," 1966; filmed television documentary Hold On--It's the Dave Clark Five, 1967; stopped large-scale touring, 1969; group disbanded, 1970.
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