The Dave Clark Five

The Dave Clark Five was one of the top British Invasion bands of the 60's and a lot of the group's success was a result of the efforts of its hard-driving, entrepreneurial leader, Dave Clark. They put eight songs in the top ten on the American pop charts in the 60's.

Dave Clark's date of birth is variously reported as being in 1939 or 1942; an examination of birth records seems to confirm that he was born on December 15, 1939. He was somewhat of a daredevil and always had a strong entrepreneurial flair. Clark worked as a stuntman in over 40 films. When his soccer team needed money in 1960, he decided to form a band. He bought a set of drums and learned how to play them. He recruited Lenny Davidson on guitar, Rick Huxley for bass, Dennis Payton on sax, and Mike Smith on keyboards and vocals. The group played locally in Tottenham, a suburb just north of London, and became enormously popular. They signed a recording contract with Ember/Pye in 1962, and became more and more popular in England. Their first single in the UK was Do You Love Me. In March of 1964 they had their first big hit in the United States with Glad All Over, this time with the Epic label on which all of their following hits would be released.

In the same month, just weeks after the spectacular television introduction of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Dave Clark Five made its first appearance on the same show and became an immediate sensation. Six more records from the group were released that year that reached the top fifteen in the US, including the top ten songs Bits and Pieces, Can't You See That She's Mine, and Because. The group mostly recorded songs that had been composed by Dave Clark [Clark was careful to retain the rights to them], or were covers of songs by other artists. There were reports that the Tottenham Sound might eclipse the Mersey Beat that was coming out of Liverpool by such groups as the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.

The Beatles had a hit film with A Hard Day's Night and Dave Clark answered it with Catch Us If You Can, a 1965 film that was to be the directorial debut of John Boorman [who would later direct a number of major motion pictures including Deliverance and Exorcist II]. The title song was one of three top ten hits for the DC5 in 1965. The others were a cover of Chris Kenner's I Like It Like That and the group's only number one record, Over and Over.

The Dave Clark Five continued to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US; to this day they hold the record for most appearances on that show by any rock band. There were more hits, including a cover of Marv Johnson's You Got What It Takes, which would prove to be their last top ten entry in the US charts, in 1967. Dave Clark had been a drama student at one time and, while keeping up with the still very popular band, he turned his attention to directing and producing. He made a very successful television production in the UK titled Hold On It's The Dave Clark Five and bought the rights to the UK television series Ready Steady Go!, a show that featured all of the major recording artists of the day from both sides of the Atlantic.

Times were changing in the music business. Psychedelia was the rage in the late 60's, but the Dave Clark Five didn't get on that bandwagon. Their popularity diminished somewhat in the US. Without resorting to using modern studio technology, they still had some top ten songs in the UK including Everybody Knows, Red Balloon, and Everybody Get Together. The band split up in the early 70's.

Dave Clark still had his flair for business. An album was compiled titled Thumping Great Hits and it reached the top of the British charts in 1977 at a time when punk rock was at the height of its popularity. A video cassette was made from the Ready Steady Go! tapes in 1983 and was on the best sellers chart for six months, peaking at number one. Other videos compiled by Clark did nearly as well. In 1985 Clark's compilation of video tapes from the Ready Steady Go! series drew large amounts of viewers to British television. Dave Clark wrote a London stage musical titled Time that was a huge success in 1986.

The Dave Clark Five was one of the most successful of the British Invasion bands. Dave Clark is a good musician, and an even better businessman. The years went by and inevitably took their toll. Dennis Payton battled cancer for years before he passed away on December 17, 2006. Mike Smith returned to performing as a solo act in the early twenty-first century. A short time later he fell and suffered a spinal cord injury; Smith was hopitalized for several years and died of pneumonia on February 28, 2008.

Less than two weeks after the death of keyboardist/lead singer Mike Smith, the Dave Clark Five was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Most Recent Update: May 21, 2000

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