For Dave Clark Five, the accolades finally arrive
( USA TODAY )- A month after The Beatles kicked off their historic three-episode blitz on The Ed Sullivan Show, a second British Invasion act stepped into that coveted spotlight. The Rolling Stones? The Who ? Try the Dave Clark Five, the upbeat, drum-centric rock quintet that briefly rivaled The Beatles during the mid-'60s.
Wider gaps separate other achievements. The Beatles were ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the first year they qualified (25 years after their first recording). The DC5 was kept waiting another two decades. The band, which stalled in the 2006 and 2007 semifinals, finally will be inducted Monday by longtime admirer Tom Hanks at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
Drummer Dave Clark, guitarist Lenny Davidson and bassist Rick Huxley, survivors of the hit-making lineup intact from 1962 to 1970, will be honored alongside Madonna, John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen and The Ventures. The ceremony airs live at 8:30 p.m. ET/tape delay PT on VH1 Classic and online at BestBuy.com.
"It's a great compliment," says Clark, 65, speaking from London last week. To mark the occasion, The Dave Clark Five: The Hits arrives Tuesday at iTunes on Clark's DC International label. A retail release will follow soon. The 28-track collection culls the band's out-of-print catalog and includes the unreleased Every American Citizen and Universal Love, plus a 28-page booklet with a biography, discography and rare photos.
Clark's only regret about the delayed induction is that two bandmates, Denis Payton and Mike Smith, didn't live to bask in the glory. Sax player Payton died of cancer in late 2006. Singer Smith, who was left paralyzed from the chest down by a spinal cord injury in 2003, died of pneumonia Feb. 28. Clark had spent the previous Sunday at Smith's home to watch their beloved Tottenham Hotspur soccer team beat Chelsea.
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"It would have been wonderful to be inducted a couple years ago and have everyone there," says Clark, whose Hall appearance will include his tributes to the late bandmates. "Denis knew he was dying when he found out we were on the (2006) short list, and he was over the moon. He said, 'What a way to finish my career. It's icing on the cake.' At least Mike knew we were being inducted, and he was thrilled.
"We were all friends before we made it, so it's devastating when these things happen," he says. "Mike was a great singer and keyboard player. I found it quite emotional to see him (paralyzed). He knew he wasn't going to get better, but he was very strong and had a positive spirit. That takes a lot of courage."
Clark left school at 15 with dreams of acting. He formed a band to raise money for his soccer team. As bandleader and business manager, he blazed trails on several fronts, first by showcasing the drummer in a guitar-based genre that tended to make stars of singers.
Defying industry norms, which locked artists into draconian contracts, he negotiated a record deal for artistic control, ownership of recordings and a generous royalty rate, all unheard of at that time.
"We were a very popular live band in London, packing in 6,000 people a night, and the record companies that came after us wanted us to be the flavor of the month," Clark says. "I didn't want to be manufactured. I found out what the top royalty rate was and thought, 'If I go in and treble it, they'll offer the proper rate.' But they said, 'OK, fine.' "
Glad All Over sold 2.5 million singles in the U.K. In January 1964, the song booted the Fab Four's I Want to Hold Your Hand off the top of the British chart, prompting an invitation from Ed Sullivan to perform on his variety show. Clark turned it down.
"I'd never heard of him," says Clark, who didn't repeat the misstep when Sullivan approached again. The Dave Clark Five was unfamiliar to U.S. audiences when it performed Glad All Over on the hugely popular Sullivan in March 1964. Returning for an encore the next week, the band was greeted by 30,000 fans at Kennedy Airport.
"Eight weeks later, we were back in America with a sell-out tour," Clark recalls. "You can never do that today - go from being unknown to that kind of success. You didn't have video games and cable. You had Ed Sullivan and his 70 million viewers."
The Dave Clark Five also had some of the era's catchiest hits: Bits and Pieces, Can't You See That She's Mine, Because, Catch Us if You Can. From 1964 to 1967, DC5 unleashed 13 albums. Though regarded then as an exotic import, the band was shaped by seminal U.S. rock and soul and scaled the charts with covers of Do You Love Me, You Got What It Takes and I Like It Like That.
"We'd play the American bases and found all these wonderful records by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Sam Cooke," Clark says. "Without American music, there would not have been a British Invasion."
Though impressed by some modern rock, he decries a lack of stage seasoning among current acts. "We got our grounding by playing live. You had to fall flat on your face, pay your dues and grow. In the studio, there were only four tracks, so you had a live sound and you didn't cover your imperfections with all this technology."
Imagination compensated for limited technology. When the band decided its recording of Over and Over was too slow, an engineer wrapped strips of tape around a capstan between tape reels to manually speed up the sound.
"It added a little vibrato to Denis' harmonica. Everyone said, 'How'd you get that effect?' It was a five-cent roll of tape."
If the Dave Clark Five doesn't rank with Invasion icons in boomer memories, it may be because Clark pulled the plug in 1970.
"I wanted to stop while we were still getting big hits," says Clark, who continued producing and recording. "The only thing I miss is the actual performing. We went around the world in our own plane surrounded by police and security, going through kitchens in hotels, locked in, whisked off to press conferences and arenas. After two or three years of that, everything looks the same. I felt I should stop while I was enjoying it."