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 leader, Dave Clark. The group had twenty-two hit records in Britain and twenty-four in America along with six sell out US tours and thirteen appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Dave Clark was born in 1942. He was somewhat of a daredevil and worked as a stuntman in over 40 films. When his soccer team, the Tottenham Hotspurs, needed money in 1960, he decided to form a band. He bought a set of drums and learned how to play them.

The band started out life as a backing group for Stan Saxon, a North London singer. The line up then included Chris Wells and Mick Ryan as well as Dave Clark. Chris and Mick left and Dave Clark along with Mike Smith, Dennis Payton, Rick Huxley and Lenny Davidson formed The Dave Clark Five.

The group played locally in Tottenham, a suburb just north of London. They signed a recording contract with Ember / Pye in 1962, and became more and more popular in England. Their first release was "Mulberry Bush" (a rock version of the nursery rhyme) which made no impact, but their second, a cover of The Contours' "Do You Love Me" did make the lower reaches of the charts in the autumn of 1963. Both the DC5 and the Tremeloes released "Do You Love Me" at the same time, with The Tremelos version rising higher on the British record charts. This was to make a major impact on the band, as they then decided to record their own material.

Here is where the genius that was Dave Clark started to flourish. Right from the beginning, he held ownership of all the DC5 masters( finished recordings) and continued receiving royalties for years.

The Clark / Smith composition "Glad All Over" was released in the late 1963 and by January 1964 was number 1 on the British Pop Charts, replacing the Beatles " I Want To Hold Your Hand" which had been number 1 for six weeks. This song has become one of the most recognizable Beat Era hits and still enjoys a major amount of air play today. Toppling the Beatles brought some major press for the group and they took advantage of this with the release of their next single, "Bits and Pieces" which reached number 2 on the British Charts.

The DC5 were distinguished from their British contemporaries by their larger-than-life production, Clark's loud stomping drum sound, and Mike Smith's powerful vocals. Though accused by detractors of lacking finesse and hipness, they had a solid ear for melodies and harmonies, and wrote much of their early material, the best of which has endured quite well, although their albums were fairly weak.

The Dave Clark Five took the U.S. by storm, spearheading what was to become known as "The British Invasion". A record 18 appearances (for a British Beat Group) on the Ed Sullivan Show along with 6 sold out tours and 15 Top 20 hits in three years, established the DC5 as one of the best known British Bands. One of their tours included an amazing 12 sold out shows at Carnegie Hall in 3 days.

Six more records from the group were released in 1964 that reached the top fifteen in the U.S., including the top ten songs "Bits and Pieces" (#4), "Can't You See That She's Mine" (#4) and "Because" (#3). Their hot streak continued the following year with "I Like It Like That" (#7), "Catch Us If You Can" (#4) and their sole U.S. #1, "Over and Over", which had been released earlier by Bobby Day as the flip side of his hit, "Rockin' Robin".

The Beatles had a hit film with A Hard Day's Night and Dave Clark answered it with Having a Wild Weekend, 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).

1966 saw The DC5 reach the U.S. top 40 with "At The Scene" (#18), "Try Too Hard" (#12) and "Please Tell Me Why" (#28). There were more hits in 1967, including a cover of Marv Johnson's "You Got What It Takes" (#7), which would prove to be their last top ten entry in the U.S. charts and their final top 40 hit, "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby" (#38).

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 U.S. 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 early 70's saw them chart with the first Maxi-Single, "Good Old Rock and Roll", but after being relegated to the revival tours, they disbanded.

For a while, Dave Clark and Mike Smith teamed up in a new group called Dave Clark and Friends, along with Eric Ford, Alan Parker and Madeline Bell. When the group split, Clark attended drama school. Mike Smith continued in the music business, writing commercial jingles and producing other artists. Lenny Davidson became a guitar teacher in Hertfordshire and ran a business that services church organs. Rick Huxley went to work for the Vox musical instrument company before opening Musical Equipment Ltd in Camberwell, and then turned to electrical wholesaling. Dennis Payton went in to the real estate business and continued to play music part time.

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 also wrote a London stage musical titled Time, starring Cliff Richard and later David Cassidy, that was a huge success in 1986.

In 1993, Clark re-mastered all the band's original singles and released them on a compact disc called "Glad All Over Again". Mike Smith meanwhile formed a new group called Mike Smith's Rock Engine and continued to tour in both the UK and the US. Tragedy struck Smith on October 15th, 2003, when he suffered an accident at his home in Spain, which affected his spinal chord. He became paralysed from the waist down with no movement in his right arm and limited mobility in his left. Steve Van Zandt of the E Street Band and Paul Shaffer of The Late Show with David Letterman, organized a benefit concert in New York on Mike's behalf.

On December 17, 2006, saxaphonist Dennis Payton died of cancer at the age of 63. His death came just weeks after it was announced that the Dave Clark Five had been nominated for induction to the 2007 US Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. In a statement, Dave Clark called Payton "a very dear friend who I've known since we were teenagers". He went on to say "Denis was extremely brave and not afraid of death. He had an amazing philosophy on life and will be greatly missed by me and all who knew him." Clark said his former bandmate had been "thrilled" by the citation. "He said, 'I know I won't be around, but it was an amazing part of my life that I am very proud of.'"

Rock and Roll fans suffered another loss on February 28th, 2008 when Mike Smith died of pneumonia at Stoke Mandeville Hospital outside of London. He was 64. Just two weeks later, On March 10th, The Dave Clark Five was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame by actor Tom Hanks. In attendance with the three surviving members of the band were the families of Lenny Davidson, Rick Huxley and Denis Payton. Dave Clark opened up his acceptance speech by saying that he felt like he was at the Oscars. Lenny Davidson mentioned that they arrived in New York for the ceremony on March 8th, exactly 44 years after their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. "Glad All Over" was performed by Joan Jett, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp and Billy Joel. Later that month, a 28-track collection, "The Dave Clark Five: The Hits", was released on iTunes.

Bassist Rick Huxley passed away on February 11th, 2013 at the age of 72. Formerly a heavy smoker, he had suffered from emphysema for some time. His wife, Ann, died in 2012.

The Hits of The Dave Clark Five:

Glad All Over -- Jan. 1964 -- charted at #6
Bits And Pieces -- Feb.1964 -- charted at #4
Do You Love Me -- April 1964 -- charted at #11
Can't You See That She's Mine -- June 1964 -- charted at #4
Because -- July 1964 -- charted at #3
Everybody Knows -- Sept. 1964 -- charted at #15
Any Way You Want It -- Nov. 1964 -- charted at #14
Come Home -- Jan. 1965 -- charted at #14
Reelin' And Rockin' -- April 1965 -- charted at #23
I Like It Like That -- June 1965 -- charted at #7
Catch Us If You Can -- July 1965 -- charted at #4
Over And Over -- Oct. 1965 -- charted at #1
At the Scene -- Jan. 1966 -- charted at #18
Try Too Hard -- March 1966 -- charted at #12
You Got What It Takes -- March 1967 -- charted at #7
You Musta Been a Beautiful Baby -- June 1967 -- charted at #35
Everybody Knows -- Dec. 1967 -- charted at #43

Be sure to read Gary James' Interview With Dave Clark