This week, I watched a great documentary on PBS, “The Dave Clark Five and Beyond — Glad All Over.” It renewed my appreciation for the Dave Clark Five, a band that in many ways rivaled The Beatles in the days of music’s so-called British Invasion. I also learned lots that I hadn’t known before, about the Dave Clark Five and especially Dave Clark himself.
The program featured insights from other hugely successful pop/rock artists, such as Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Elton John. In just the first few minutes of the show, Ozzy Osbourne remarked that Dave Clark “made drumming look sexy!” and Bruce Springsteen gushed about the Dave Clark Five’s “big, nasty-sounding records.” Of course, Springsteen meant that the group’s sound was big and nasty in the best possible way.
While The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were guitar-driven bands, the Dave Clark Five prominently featured a keyboardist and a sax player. Plus, it was very unique to see a rock band with the drummer as its front man. Dave Clark often set up his drums in front of the other band members or had them stand off to the sides, putting himself in plain view of the audience.
Yet in the Dave Clark Five, the keyboard player, Mike Smith, was no slouch either. In fact, he was the group’s lead singer.
Having been a drummer for many years, before I began playing keyboards, watching this “Glad All Over” documentary gave me somewhat of an “A-ha!” moment. The guitar players often got more of the glory, but now I don’t feel so bad.
Last but not least, the program highlighted Dave Clark’s prowess as a manager, on both the musical and business levels. Clark made a wise decision to cut back on touring in the U.S. when the fun of being on the road — or even traveling on the band’s private plane, the DC5 — started to fade away. However, the Dave Clark Five remained a major force in the U.K. and elsewhere overseas, for several years after the group stopped touring America.
More importantly, Clark had the smarts to hang onto his master recordings and publishing rights, when so many other artists (Paul Mc Cartney included) knew nothing about the business side of music and lived to regret their lack of involvement in such decisions. And by the way, Dave Clark also directed and produced the documentary “The Dave Clark Five and Beyond — Glad All Over.”
All in all, watching this program on PBS was a real eye-opener. It was much more than just an entertaining trip down memory lane. Young musicians today could still learn a lot from what bands like the Dave Clark Five accomplished decades ago and why Clark’s business decisions, as well as the group’s hits, are still so impressive.