Originally a backing group for north London singer Stan Saxon, the Five originally comprised Dave Clark on drums and vocals, backed by various musicians, including bassist Chris Wells and guitarist Mick Ryan.
After splitting from Saxon, the Five established their own identity.
The evolving line-up eventually featured Mike Smith, Rick Huxley, Lenny Davidson and Denis Payton. Smith’s throaty vocals and Clark’s incessant thumping beat became two of the group’s most familiar trademarks.
After seeing their cover of Do You Love Me? pipped at the post by a version by Brian Poole and The Tremeloes, the Dave Clark Five contrived to write their own winners and succeeded with Glad All Over and Bits and Pieces reaching number one and number two respectively.
However, their British success was dwarfed by their progress in America where they concentrated their efforts throughout the sixties. They were the first British group to undertake a major US tour in the vanguard of The Beatles.
Lacking the Fab Four’s large scale promotion campaign, they were greeted by a mere handful of inquisitive fans when they landed at New York’s Idlewild Airport in March 1964.
Within a week – with Glad All Over high in the Billboard Hot 100 – they could no longer venture onto the streets unrecognised or unmolested.
Rick Huxley was treated for a badly gashed face when the Five were mobbed by 5,000 hysterical teenage fans in Washington DC. Shortly afterwards, Mike Smith suffered broken ribs in a similar crush.
For a short spell, The Dave Clark Five became arguably the world’s top group as an insatiable demand for Clark merchandise was fully exploited, to the extent of scheduling a gap as little as six weeks between albums of frankly sub-standard material.
Although they scrupulously plugged their singles on British TV, this was really only market research for the US. Flops at home could be recouped abroad for more negotiable tracks.
For example, Look Before You Leap petered out after only one week in the British chart, but its flip Please Tell Me Why was promoted as the A-side in America and sailed effortlessly into the Hot 100.
The group’s second career peak came in 1965 with their only major feature film, Catch Us If You Can. Directed by John Boorman, the movie was more downbeat than A Hard Day’s Night (1964) but its monochrome hues gave it a likeable lyricism.
It was a typical tale of young people running away from the old squares’ sordid commercialism, and though there was an oblique attempt to push Rick as the group clown, only Dave was permitted any real character development, playing opposite Barbara Ferris (the first choice for the role, Marianne Faithfull, had rejected the part as “too poppy”).
The hits inevitably petered out and Clark retired the band in 1971, shortly after The Beatles broke up. Denis Payton died of cancer in 2006.
Lead singer Mike Smith died in February 2008 at the age of 64. He died from pneumonia at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. This was a result of complications from a spinal cord injury sustained in 2003 which left him paralysed from the waist down.
He had been in hospital since September 2003 but was released in December 2007 to live with his wife in a specially-prepared home nearby.
Bassist Rick Huxley passed away in 2013.
The Dave Clark Five Fan Cub was run by Cliff Richard‘s sisters, Jackie and Joan.
Saxophone, harmonica, guitar