Twisted Systems

The Dave Clark Five

When writing this column, I frequently close my eyes and go back to certain times in my life – in this case 1964 post Beatles arrival – and try to channel my memory as to how the arrival of the Beatles and the entire British Invasion affected my life. It is nearly impossible to explain the incredible emotional disparity between the year 1963 (the year Kennedy was assassinated) and 1964 (the year the Beatles arrived).

These events, separated by only 2 months, took me, along with millions of my peers, from the lowest low to the highest high.

But it wasn’t just the Beatles arrival, it was the entire change of the music scene. Seemingly overnight, our AM radios were overtaken by new heroes.

The first post-Beatles band to hit the airwaves and come crashing into my consciousness was the Dave Clark Five with the song “Glad All Over”.

I remember watching the evening news every night after the arrival of the Beatles and listening for any Beatles news updates. Only 2 weeks after the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, with 3 songs in the top 10 (“I want to Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, and “Please Please Me”), bands such as the Searchers with “Needles and Pins”, the Swinging Blue Jeans with “Hippy Hippy Shake”, and the Dave Clark Five with “Glad All Over” were now in the top 30 on WABC, my local radio station.

The national news shows disregarded the Searchers & the Swinging Blue Jeans (I don’t know why) and concentrated on the Dave Clark Five: “The English rock ‘n’ roll band that can knock the Beatles off of the top of the charts!”

Perhaps it just made for good television, but I remember that newsreel footage showed thousands of young girls screaming at a Dave Clark Five concert in the UK and the announcer saying that the DC5 were going to be the next Beatles.

It certainly looked like Dave Clark Mania was coming!

And, why not?

“Glad All Over” was power pop at its most intense.

The song just drove through the radio like a jet engine, and the machine-like pounding of the drums along with the vocals by Mike Smith was so self-assured and commanding that it almost made you feel like you were at a parade and had to stand at attention! The Sax added yet another element to the powerful sound.

The song was mesmerizing as it poured out of my little transistor radio with the 1-inch speaker, and, in my memory, the song went to number one.

It had to have.

It didn’t.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t have a scientific study of the following analysis, but here it goes…

Today, if you asked my peers (those who were born in the early 1950’s and were most affected by the music of the British Invasion) to tell you which British Invasion band was the next one to reach number one in the US after the Beatles, my guess is that most would say the Rolling Stones.

Why?

Because most people, out of habit, mention these 2 bands (the Beatles and the Stones) together as a quick historical reference.

But the Stones didn’t have their first number one, “Satisfaction”, until the summer of 1965. That is a year and a half after the Beatles hit number one with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

A year and a half….

So, I’m sitting at my desk writing this appreciation of the Dave Clark Five thinking that “Glad All Over” had to be the first post-Beatles British Invasion band to hit number one.

When I researched and found that it didn’t, I thought for sure the follow up “Bits and Pieces” went to number one…nope.

Neither did (among others):

“Do You Love Me”
“Can’t You See That She’s Mine”
“Any Way You want it”
“Catch Us If You Can”
“Because”
“You Got What It Takes”

I remember these songs like it was yesterday.

I would have bet the farm that many, if not all, went to number one on WABC in New York City.

To further illustrate the immense popularity of the DC5,the ani here is yet another example:

The Ed Sullivan show, the show that “broke the Beatles” in the US and remained the most influential outlet for almost all of the British Invasion bands, had the Dave Clark Five on 18 times (more than any other rock act)!

The Beatles only appeared on the Ed Sullivan show 9 times.

This only underscores how big the DC5 were from 1964-1966.

I went back to watch the videos for this article and what I saw was a band of incredible musicians with an almost militaristic and regimented single-minded approach to style and presentation that belied a professionalism probably unequalled by all (except the Beatles) of the other British Invasion bands.

Dave Clark, on the drums, seemed to preside over a machine, and he knew the results of that kind of performance discipline.

The bands stage choreography and dress code further underscored the detail that band leader Dave Clark imposed to create a monolithic impression.

I also now understand his effect on the E Street band’s drummer Max Weinberg.

Max sits on his drum throne, the same way Dave Clark did, and plays with that same kind of command and determination!

So, getting back to my memory of the importance of the DC5 in the chronological hierarchy of British Invasion bands, this is what I learned:

The next British Invasion artist to hit number one after the Beatles was Peter and Gordon with “World Without Love”, followed by “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” from Manfred Mann, and then “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals.

Also hitting number one before the DC5 were Freddy and the Dreamers and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Amazingly, the Dave Clark Five finally hit the number one spot (and they only did that once in the US) with the song “Over and Over” in November 1965, almost 2 years after the Beatles hit the US.

Unlike the Beatles, the DC5 never morphed into an album band, and because of that they have a limited historical impact on the music scene and the evolution of the British Invasion bands.

That is unfortunate, as they are certainly one of the greatest of all British Invasion bands that helped redefine the music of the ’60s.

I love them!