For a brief moment, ever so fleetingly, the Dave Clark Five challenged the Beatles’ leadership of the 1964 British Invasion. They are, however, less remembered than many acts of that era. In reality, they were never truly competitors. The Beatles had twenty of their singles reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Dave Clark Five had one (it’s the final song in today’s medley).

Although they were one of the top selling pop acts of the British invasion with sales of 100 million records, The Dave Clark Five is little-remembered today. Despite a (belated) 2008 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if you are much younger than say 60, chances are you’ve never heard of them, or heard any of their music.

The band never really progressed musically. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Manfred Mann, The Animals and others were moving to more a complicated sound (towards Rock rather than Pop) and to more mature lyrics. The DC5 failed to do so. That was one of the reasons the hits stopped coming and led to the band’s breakup in 1970.

Today many of their songs are all but forgotten and there is only one person to blame for that … Dave Clark.

Between 1978 and 1993, none of the band’s music was available to be purchased in any commercial format due to rights-holder Clark declining to license the group’s recordings. In 1993, he made a deal with Hollywood Records to issue a double CD History of the Dave Clark Five. The project flopped. No DC5 material was then legally available until 2008.

Clark hadn’t realized that by keeping the records out of the stores for nearly twenty years, he had diminished their value. Oldies radio programmed less of the hits, as they were not available to the stations. Whatever residual presence the Dave Clark Five records had, had dissipated, and much of the band’s great music faded from memory.

The best thing the band had going for it was keyboardist and lead singer Mike Smith. A powerhouse vocalist, Smith co-wrote many of the DC5 songs. Unfortunately, he had to share co-writing credits with Clark as part of his “deal” with Dave even though Clark had no more to do with writing the songs than I did.

The band also had a very competent guitarist in Lenny Davidson, the thunderous bass of Rick Huxley, and the sledgehammer saxophone of Denis Payton. All three of them, in addition to Smith, did not make a fortune even though the group sold millions of records. They were each paid a weekly salary by Clark and when the group disbanded in 1970, the paychecks stopped.

The lost songwriting royalties for Smith due to the recordings being unavailable for a total of 30 years is staggering. It also impacted Lenny Davidson, who also wrote several songs, although he too had to share songwriting credits with Clark.

But enough of my griping about the greedy drummer (and no, he didn’t play on many of their recordings. British session drummer Bobby Graham handled that). Let’s celebrate the music of – as I like to call them – The Mike Smith Four.

It’s a loud way to begin your day. 🙂

Memories … That’s What We’re All About

Play button is on the left … Volume slider is on the right

The Dave Clark Five Medley