The Dave Clark Five and Genius


New musical post by guest blogger Ruddy Adam.

The Dave Clark Five and Genius

I’ve never had a lot of good, natural sense. I did figure out that because I was not very smart I better study people who were to learn from them. Dave Clark has been one of those people. I learned from him one important thing I have learned that all smart people have in common: Do all you can to think for yourself and make your own decisions after studying both sides of a problem/view/doctrine as objectively as you can. Don’t go with your gut. Go with what you know!

Every band that writes and composes its own music and has as many as a couple of hits must contain at least one musical genius. There are Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans for their respective bands. John, Paul, and George for the Beatles. John Phillips for the Mamas and the Papas. Don Henley and Glen Frey for the Eagles. Richard and Karen Carpenter for the Carpenters. Bryan Wilson for the Beach Boys. Elton John and Bernie Taupin for Elton’s music.

It’s Dave Clark for the Dave Clark Five. And what a unique genius we have in Mr. Clark. Like Elvis he never had the first music lesson, teaching himself to play the drums because he loved the percussion sound. He organized the band. Wrote and composed most of the music. Produced the group’s special sound. Managed the band’s finances. He directed and produced films and musicals.

Not only did he do these things. He did them extremely well. All this after having dropped out of school at age 15. Some people clearly do not need a formal education, as our friend Jay has proven, who also quit school at 15 to play speed gin and chess. He has the by far the least education of any of our successful friends, and yet has been far more successful than any of the rest of us, and has the quickest mind of anyone I’ve ever known—plus the visionary mind of a chess-master, ala Mr. Donald Trump, whom we have often compared Jay to over the years.

Also with no training in business or negotiating, Clark made the record deals for his band without the aid of

an attorney. Perhaps he learned from the mistakes Elvis made, Elvis’ being one of his musical influences. No matter how he did it. The deals he cut put him in charge of production, what songs were singles and which ones went on albums, the publishing, and the master recordings. Even the Beatles could not get publishing rights to their songs, something Paul McCartney still bemoans.

After two years of successful recordings and tourings, the whole band was rich enough to retire. That is likely why they got along so well, unlike so many other groups that jealousy and egos split apart. The Dave Clark Five lasted seven years and sold over 100-million records, then shut down because they believed they had accomplished all they could do as a team.

As I’ve noted many times, all actors, musicians, and politicians are narcissists to some degree. Clark was one to the slightest degree, though he was still narcissistic. He always gave his musicians and singers full credit, and he did choose some excellent band members.

Denny Payton played almost every instrument well, but specialized in the sax, either baritone or tenor, and played guitar and harmonica. Mike Smith was the keyboardist, mostly playing the organ, but his specialty was his smooth yet powerful tenor voice. He had two very good guitarists, a bass and lead, and all could sing.

Having not one drummer among the 25 of us when we voted in 2000, we decided not to vote for the best drummer, but to pick a top five. Dave Clark made every top five. He is known for inventing 12 rolls, often called Clark Rolls, which have so insinuated themselves into the drum world that they are taken for granted nowadays. His drums being the centerpiece of his music, he often placed his drums in front of the rest of the band when on set.

Notice in this first song how Clark has designed the set. His music was composed around his drums with Mike Smith’s vocals and keyboards accompanying. In this set he places his dominant drums at the bottom-center with Smith at the top-right above him. Brilliant innovation! Never done before.

The Five always dressed conservatively, kept themselves clean cut, and refused to record political songs as so many other groups did beginning in the late `60s due mainly to that ratty-assed Vietnam War. Though he varied his music and productions, Clark was wise to keep his music along the lines of love ballads and peppy dance turns, because most of the political (read: anti-Vietnam War) music has disappeared. Not that some of it was not good music—and called for at the time. The music media turned on the Five because of it and began calling them outdated and old fashioned, to urge them to change their styles. The people still loved their songs, as they do today. They went out just about as they came in: fresh, fun, clean, and often peppy.

Here are five from the Five that El chose, a good variety. Watching the videos and listening passively is stimulative to the right-brain, and most enjoyable. But be sure to take notice of Clark’s drumming and Smith’s vocals, and every once in a while you’ll get a treat with the harmonica.

Sweet times!

“Over and Over,” The Dave Clark Five, 1965 (2:00)

“Because,” The Dave Clark Five, 1964 (2:20)

“Glad All Over,” The Dave Clark Five, 1963 (2:40)

“Do You Love Me,” The Dave Clark Five, 1964 (2:25)

“You Got What It Takes,” The Dave Clark Five, 1967 (3:00)

Publicity photo of The Dave Clark Five from their cameo performing appearance in the US film Get Yourself a College Girl.

Publicity photo of The Dave Clark Five from their cameo performing appearance in the US film Get Yourself a College Girl.

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