The Dave Clark Five appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, which played to over 70 of million households each week and knocked The Beatles, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ from the top spot of #1 on the American music charts! So why are they often referred to as ‘the poor man’s Beatles? I recalled while watching them having my face right up against the T.V.screen until my father said that it would severely effect my sperm count! As band names go The Dave Clark Five is pretty lame; it doesn’t quite have the elemental pastiche of the Jimi Hendrix Experience or the wistful ring of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. But The Dave Clark Five’s impact on the music scene in the mid-1960s was anything but lame, from magazine headlines touting “The Beatles vs. The Dave Clark Five” to schoolgirls debating who were better-looking… The Dave Clark Five or The Beatles??? There was all this “brouhaha” over them being rivals by both the media and music enthusiasts; but the bands never saw themselves as such. Like the Beatles did with a ‘Hard Days Night’, The Dave Clark Five also had a film made especially for them in 1965. It was called ‘Catch Us If You Can’.
During the British Invasion, The Dave Clark Five were not just galloping side by side with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. They were for a brief period leading the charge for the hearts and minds of a nation’s youth. They were electrifying whilst not being ponderous.
Over a two-year period the Tottenham-based The DC 5 penned an impressive 15 consecutive singles which all broke into the Top 20 of the American music charts. It was phenomenal to say the least!!
Whilst his Brit Invasion peers were among the first to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it wasn’t till 2008 that the DC5 finally got in. Strangely, they had a big fan in the actor, Tom Hanks…. who based the movie, “That Thing That You Do” on his love for them. He was the one who did the induction speech; incorporation the title of so many of their hit records… “Over and Over”, Because”..Bits and Pieces and “ Catch Us If You Can”.
In a previous interview Dave Clark spoke of those early days playing rock and roll… You’ll learn how “head strong” he was.. the leader, producer and manager of the band. He worked out with the record companies that the ownership of the masters would revert back to him after a set amount of years. Unheard of during that era! Currently Clark has set up for the streaming of the entire DC5 remastered catalogue which has just been released:
I left school at 15 years of age, I wasn’t academic at all. You can say really in a way it was by accident because we started from nothing and then gradually you build up your following and became better. Then we ended doing what they call the Mecca Circuit which was common in those days, we started from nothing then all of a sudden we were packing in six thousand people a night, three or four nights a week and never repeating a song and doing a lot of our own material and of course we got several offers for recording contract. One of them was with Decca Records and they were the company that turned down The Beatles actually. We went down and we had to do an audition which we passed it and we were ready to sign an agreement and then they said to me, “We have this new hit producer. Why don’t you come down and see what’s it like to work with him because this is who we will get to produce your records?” So we went down and the first thing he said to me was, “You’re not recording any of your own material, this is what you’re going to do”. And they were making us into what was the “flavor of the month” which was in those days Cliff Richards and the Shadows in the UK. And I thought “forget it” and I said to the guys, “When we can get some money we’ll make our own records.” We didn’t have any money, though.
And we were packing in 6000 a night with our own style. Surely any record company could say, “Let’s try something new. It’s different.” EMI Records was also one of the handful of people that were chasing us. And I said to them, “Look, if I can produce the records myself I will pay for them,” and that’s what threw them. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it. Fortunately I was a Black Belt and I was doing karate and combat and all that since I was about 8 years of age and I got a job to crash a car for three nights as a stunt man and that’s how it came up. It wasn’t monetary, I mean you go and get the best deal you can. I went in asking for four times the going rate. I found out what the going rate was for independent producers and I thought, “Well, if I ask for four times the rate, and get what everybody else is getting and they won’t think I was a pushover.” And to my amazement, they agreed to pay me that because they didn’t look on the long-term, there was no longevity. You might get one or two hit records and then on to the next person.
In 1970 after selling more than 100million records The Dave Clark Five folded. Led from the back by their manager, producer and drummer Dave Clark had failed to live up to their early success. The Dave Clark Five’s apparent refusal or inability to break out of the mid 1960s time-warp led to their eventual split and forever referred as “the poor man’s Beatles.