Madonna, John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Dave Clark Five and the Ventures are…
- Posted on Feb 25th 2011 4:30PM by James Sullivan
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Give up? It's the Dave Clark Five, the "other" hitmaking band leading the British Invasion of America, who bounced the Beatles' 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' out of the top spot in the UK and went on to score 15 straight Top Ten hits in the US in the mid-1960s.
The DC5 weren't just a cute oldies act -- they made a colossal wall of sound that predated the Who. The band's athletic energy was rooted in Dave Clark himself, a teenage stuntman who worked in dozens of movies before forming a rock 'n' roll band to raise money for his favorite soccer team's trip to Holland in the late 1950s.
Despite the band name, Clark wasn't the frontman (though he did position his drumkit at the front of the stage). The singer was Mike Smith, a classically trained pianist with a big, soulful voice. The band also featured guitarist and singer Lenny Davidson, bass player Rick Huxley and saxophonist Denny Payton (who died in 2006).
Between 1964 and '67, the DC5 had a dozen UK chart smashes, and hit the American Top 40 17 times, including such radio staples as 'Glad All Over,' 'Catch Us If You Can' (the title track of their Beatlesque feature film, titled 'Having a Wild Weekend' stateside) and 'Over and Over,' which bumped the Byrds' 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' as the America's biggest-selling single at the end of 1965. But the group, unlike its counterparts, made little effort to adapt to the psychedelic era, and it disbanded by 1971.
Clark, an astute businessman who built an empire beginning with his acquisition of the pop-hits program 'Ready Steady Go!,' stopped drumming after breaking several knuckles in a sledding accident. In 1986, he had a London theatrical hit with 'Time,' a sci-fi musical that featured Cliff Richard (later, David Cassidy) in the starring role. Freddie Mercury was one of many stars to appear on the soundtrack album.
A decade earlier, Mike Smith had been asked to sing on the original album recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Evita.' In the late 1990s, he started his own band, Mike Smith's Rock Engine. But his comeback was brief: Not long after his only son was killed in a diving accident, the singer suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall at his house in Spain.
Paralyzed from the waist down, he attended a Bruce Springsteen show in London in late 2008 after returning home from hospice care. Springsteen, a longtime fan, dedicated 'Born to Run' to the singer.
Two months later, Smith was dead of pneumonia. He missed his band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by 11 days.