Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Dave Clark, The Dave Clark Five

In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Dave Clark, drummer and leader of Tottenham 1960s beat group The Dave Clark Five.

1: An easy one to begin with: which band did your 1964 single ‘Glad All Over’ knock off the top of the charts?

The Beatles with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’


“We were selling 14,000 records a day which was unheard of – it was a great feeling. The press created a rivalry between us and The Beatles because it was London [Dave Clark Five formed in Tottenham] versus Liverpool, but both bands thought it was fun and we got on. John Lennon once came up to my band’s bassist Rick [Huxley] at rehearsals and said: ‘I love your strap, could we switch because yours is better than mine?’”


2: What did Freddie Mercury joke in response to you telling him you wanted a track you worked on together to be a cross between Edith Piaf, Jennifer Holliday and Shirley Bassey?

“He quipped: I have all their dresses!’ (Laughs)”

CORRECT. He recorded songs with you for your 1986 musical ‘Time’.

“Freddie had magic – anything and everything was possible. Usually when you go into the studio, an artist just marks the track until you actually do the live take and then they sing their balls off. But with Freddie, every time was like he was singing to 100,000 people.”

Did you see the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody?

“I had reservations but when I saw it, I loved it. There were things that weren’t accurate but that didn’t matter. If you knew Freddie personally, you’d be amazed at how perfectly Rami Malek captured his little mannerisms. He was excellent. It made me emotional. Freddie would have loved it.”

You were with Freddie at his house right at the end…

“I don’t like getting into that, because Freddie’s career is about what’s happening now, celebrating his life and his magnificent voice. It was very sad and emotional obviously.”

3: Name the hologram character Laurence Olivier played in the West End production of your 1986 musical Time.



“He was inspirational and like Freddie in a sense. In fact, when he saw Freddie singing, he said to me: ‘Now my dear boy, there’s an actor!’. When I told Freddie, he was thrilled. Laurence Olivier was the 20th century’s greatest actor so for him to take a risk and let a rocker from Tottenham direct him in a medium [as a hologram] that had never been done before shows what an innovator he was.”

You worked with Stevie Wonder on its soundtrack as well..

“We recorded the track at his LA studio. He doesn’t start working until after midnight. I’m up in the gantry in the studio, suddenly thinking: ‘He’s not going in the direction I thought he would’. Without me saying anything, he stopped and said: ‘You’re not happy with this Dave, are you?’. He had that extraordinary sense.”

“When I was working at his house, he got hungry and sent these guys out for food. We ate, but he got an upset stomach and vanished into the bathroom for half an hour. When he came up, he sat at his keyboard and wrote a song from scratch called ‘I’ve Got An Upset Stomach From a Broken Heart’. It wasn’t a broken heart, it was fried chicken! But it’s an amazing song that ended up on an album [as ‘Upset Stomach’].”

The Dave Clark Five

4: Which singer rejected the role of Dinah in your 1965 film Catch Us If You Can?

“You’ve got me on this! I can’t remember her name. It was Mick Jagger’s ex – er, Marianne Faithfull!”


“She would have been fabulous but she was booked to do something else.”

“We were the first band to tour the USA. When I was in LA, Jack Warner – owner of Warner Bros. Studios  – invited me for lunch and said: ‘My daughter loves you – we want to make a movie’. Cheekily, I demanded director approval. I’d seen a documentary by Jack Boorman and loved the visuals, so I refused to do it without him. Catch Us If You Can was his first feature film, and he went on to do Deliverance.”


5: A cover of your 1964 single ‘Any Way You Want It’ was the last song ever performed live by which punk band?

The Ramones.”

“People in the early days thought we were just straight-pop, but we started off playing all the dives having beer cans thrown at us. I spoke to Paul McCartney about how we used to play a club on top of The Manor House pub in London. A group of guys didn’t like their girlfriends fancying us, so flicked pennies at us – in those days, pennies were big! One hit me and – because I was a black belt in martial arts and did unarmed combat – and I jumped off the stage and said: ‘Right! I’ll have you first!’. The audience went crazy, turned over tables, it was pandemonium. The police came – we just sat back watching.”

“But Paul McCartney said to me: ‘Oh, that happened to me, Dave! But I didn’t throw the pennies back – I put them in my pocket for loose change! (Laughs)”

6: In 2016, fans of which football team changed the lyrics of ‘Glad All Over’ to honour their new manager?

“Manchester City. It was Pep Guardiola, wasn’t it?”

CORRECT. They changed it to the chant ‘‘Cos we’ve got Guardiola’.

“My one disappointment in my career is that it didn’t go to Spurs, because my company’s called Spurs Music Publishing. I tried to buy Spurs in the ‘60s and the family who owned it wouldn’t sell it. Going back to the past, the whole reason I formed the band was to raise funds so our youth team could travel to Holland. We got sick on the boat going over, won the match, came back and the rest is history. I’m flattered Crystal Palace use it [as their anthem], but I’m Spurs through and through.”

The Dave Clark Five

7: Which synthpop band covered ‘Glad All Over’ for a B-side in 2010?

“Are you talking about the Pet Shop Boys?”

CORRECT. As the B-side to ‘Together’.

The Supremes covered your tracks ‘Bits and Pieces’ and ‘Because’ as well…

“Motown founder Berry Gordy told me that for their two big number ones ‘Baby Love’ and ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, they copied the drum fills and feel of ‘Glad All Over’ and ‘Bits and Pieces’. That was the biggest compliment!”


8: Which actor inducted you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008?

“Tom Hanks.”


“He was a big fan – which blew me away! He wrote me a fan letter when he was writing, directing and starting in his own [1996] film That Thing You Do! which was based on The Dave Clark Five.”


9: Who once asked for your autograph aboard Air Force One?

“Who told you that?! We had our own plane and just as we were about to leave Chicago, the secret service came aboard and demanded: ‘Come with us’. We got off the plane into a car with a motorcycle escort and went to the other side of the airport – and there was Air Force One! I go aboard and President Johnson’s there with our album! He said: ‘Do you think you could sign this for my daughter?’”

CORRECT. President Lyndon B. Johnson

The Dave Clark Five

10: What number did your 1964 single ‘Bits and Pieces’ reach in the Netherlands?

“I wouldn’t know – we were in America then.”

WRONG. It was Number Four.

“We were massive all over the world. The biggest audience we played to was a quarter of a million in the Philippines. We were the first ever band to play in Hawaii, which was emotional. You had incredible experiences – but also scary ones. In Cleveland, a girl jumped out of the grand circle onto the stage to kiss me and broke both her legs – but still crawled up for an autograph! I was knocked out once because somebody wrapped a note around a candy and threw it at me. Blood trickled down my forehead and everybody thought I’d been shot!”

After just six years, The Dave Clark Five disbanded. Were you ever tempted to reunite?

“We had the best time, but we stopped because every country started to look the same. As soon as it stopped being fun, we stopped – while we were still selling millions of records and packing out stadiums. That’s the way to do it. I remember my mate Muhammad Ali and those extra fights he had to do [that he lost] – he should have retired a champ.”

“In the ‘80s, an American offered us a fortune to reform and tour. I said no, and phoned again, saying: ‘Come on Dave, everyone’s got a price – what’s yours?’ I hung up – that was an insult.”

Ever turn down anything else big?

“Well, we got approached to do The Monkees in 1964, but by then, we’d hit it off big in the States. That’s why their song is called ‘Last Train to Clarksville’. Years later, the writers [Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart] wrote me a beautiful letter saying they copied ‘(Theme From) The Monkees from ‘Catch Us If You Can’.”


The verdict: 9/10

“I played our stuff loud but thank God I’m not deaf or brain-dead at all!”

‘The Dave Clark Five – All The Hits’ is released on January 24.