The Dave Clark Five and Beyond – Glad All Over, a lively and music-packed two-hour Great Performances special premiering tonight on PBS, reminds us that three, not two, truly great British bands came out of the vibrant ’60s music scene.
Everyone remembers The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, of course, but a generation or two of American music lovers may not remember The Dave Clark Five, a group that had a phenomenal international run from 1964 to 1970 and powerfully influenced some of today’s leading musical artists, including Bruce Springsteen.
During their heyday, the band actually rivaled The Beatles in terms of both popularity and professional credibility, as fans debated the merits of the former’s so-called “Tottenham Sound” vs. the latter band’s well-known “Mersey Beat.” The Dave Clark Five may have been more clean-cut and conventionally handsome – especially drummer Clark and his frontman vocalist, Mike Smith – but as Springsteen and others note during the special, there was a power and a raw edge to their performances that neither of the other two superbands could match.
“It was just a much bigger sound than either the Stones or The Beatles,” Springsteen says.
Clark originally formed the group, comprised of gym buddies from the Tottenham community in North London, just as a fun way to earn some pocket money. The band quickly gained a following during their appearances at a London club, and shot to superstardom in 1964 after an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Although The Beatles had appeared on Sullivan’s show a few weeks earlier, The Dave Clark Five eventually would rack up a record-breaking 18 appearances on that hit variety series, and they embarked on a major U.S. tour in May 1964, before either The Beatles or the Stones, packing huge arenas everywhere they went. Their celebrity fans included Lucille Ball (who filmed a TV special with them), Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
When they weren’t touring, the band was in the studio, cranking out a series of best-selling albums and hit singles such as “Glad All Over,” “Because,” “I Like It Like That,” “Catch Us If You Can” and “Over and Over.” For a time The Dave Clark Five was even more successful in the U.S. than in their native Britain, until the group, exhausted, decided to suspend touring in 1967 and work exclusively from the U.K. After selling 100 million records, The Dave Clark Five disbanded in 1970.
The PBS special includes extensive performance footage from The Dave Clark Five’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, much of it not seen in decades, as well as home movies by members of the group. There are also newly filmed interviews with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Steven Van Zandt, Gene Simmons, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick, as well as fans Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Ian McKellen, among others.
A major highlight, however, is extensive footage from Tom Hank’s eloquent and ardent tribute to the band when they belatedly were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. By then, two of its members, the charismatic Smith and saxophonist Denis Payton, had died, but bass player Rick Huxley and guitarist Lenny Davidson joined Clark on stage to accept the prestigious honor before a cheering crowd.
Clark himself wrote, produced and directed The Dave Clark Five and Beyond – Glad All Over, which amounts to a nostalgic valentine to the four bandmates he clearly cherished, as well as reminding us of the great music this band produced. If you lived through their glory days, as I did, this special is an unforgettable time capsule. If you don’t remember The Dave Clark Five, it will be a revelation.
As always, be sure to check your local TV listings to confirm when this special is airing in your local market.