Boomers Loved the Dave Clark Five

Mister Boomer recently saw a PBS documentary about the Dave Clark Five. It was filled with great nostalgic bits of their music and TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and Shindig! Yet what stood out for Mister B was info he did not know: that the band starred in their very own 1965 motion picture, Having a Wild Weekend (released as Catch Us If You Can in the UK).

The incarnation of the band that hit US shores and known to American boomers — Dave Clark (drums), Mike Smith (vocals, keyboards), Denis Payton (saxophone), Rick Huxley (bass) and Lenny Davidson (lead guitar) — met while training at a gym two nights a week.

Clark had been a movie extra and stuntman, having appeared in The VIPs (starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) and A Shot in the Dark (starring Peter Sellers). Some say his experience in movies helped give the band their theatricality in live and TV appearances.

Every boomer knows a good portion of the hit songs of the Dave Clark Five. They burst on the English scene in 1962, and over the next eight years, released an astounding 15 consecutive Top 20 US hit singles, selling more than 100 million records. In 1964, Glad All Over replaced I Want to Hold Your Hand as number one on the UK Singles chart, and they had arrived on the world stage. Boomers sang along to many of their hits, including:
Glad All Over (1964)
Bits and Pieces (1964)
Any Way You Want It (1964)
Because (1964)
Catch Us If You Can (1965)
Over and Over (1965)
…to name a few.

The band was British Invasion competition for The Beatles and Rolling Stones, but had their own sound. They were the first British Invasion band to tour the US and the second on The Ed Sullivan Show, after The Beatles. The DC5, however, appeared on Ed Sullivan 18 times — more than any other rock, pop or R&B act.

Columbia/Epic, the band’s record company at the time, wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so thought it might be a good idea to follow the successful track of A Hard Days’ Night, the 1964 Richard Lester film starring the The Beatles. Thus Catch Us If You Can was conceived in 1965 as a vehicle for the group, and John Boorman was tapped to direct it. The title song had been a monster worldwide hit for the group the year before. Later named Having a Wild Weekend for US distribution, the film was to be Boorman’s feature film-directing debut. He went on to direct the classic films Point Blank (1967), Deliverance (1972), Excalibur (1981) and Hope and Glory (1987), among others.

The band performed the soundtrack for the film, but unlike The Beatles in A Hard Days’ Night, they did not play themselves, but rather portrayed characters — stuntmen and not musicians — in the movie.

The story follows the adventures of Steve (Dave Clark), a stuntman, and Dinah (Barbara Ferris). Dinah is a famous model and TV commercial spokeswoman for a meat company as “The Butcha Girl.” They are both weary of their work situation and Steve whisks her away in his movie-set Jaguar for a well-deserved day off. Along the way Dinah pokes fun at the commercialization of her own image on a billboard, the couple run across societal “dropouts,” proto-hippies looking to drugs for escape from a changing reality, and head to an island that Dinah is looking to purchase as her own little hideaway, only to find out the island is accessible by land in low tide. Meanwhile, the marketing and PR firm behind the TV commercial that Dinah was shooting see the potential to exploit the situation and call in the police, stating Dinah was kidnapped. The chase ensues as police, marketing executives and fellow bandmate-stuntmen follow the couple through London and Britain.

While no one raved about the acting abilities of the group, the film was fairly well received as a comment on popular culture, the emptiness of consumerism and the commercialization of youth culture.

Unlike The Beatles, the DC5 didn’t go on to make additional movies, sticking to music instead. The group disbanded in 1970. Dave Clark, unlike his contemporaries, had enough business acumen to retain all the rights to the band’s songs and TV performances. As a result, there were no recordings of the band available for purchase between 1978 and 1993. Though high on the list of boomer greats, some say it was the ego and high monetary demands of Dave Clark himself that stopped the DC5 from becoming as important after their break-up as all the other bands of the British Invasion.

In 1986, Dave Clark wrote and produced a stage musical, Time. The science fiction play centered around a musician forced to defend Earth in the Court of the Universe. Narrated by Laurence Olivier, the play stared Cliff Richards, who was later replaced by David Cassidy. It was a multimedia visual tour de force which had a two-year run in London’s West End. The subsequent concept album featured Cliff Richards, Freddie Mercury, Dionne Warwick, Leo Sayer, Julian Lennon and Stevie Wonder. The album sold two million copies, with multiple hit singles.

Selected hits from the band’s heyday are now available in online stores, though TV appearance clips available for public consumption are still few and far between. Mister Boomer was there in the beginnings of the DC5, having a transistor radio of his own in 1964. He loved all of their big hits, but for years the harmonies on Because made him think it was a Beatles tune! The Dave Clark Five was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Mister Boomer has to ask, what took so long?

Did you see Having a Wild Weekend and play DC5’s records over and over again, boomers?

One thought on “Boomers Loved the Dave Clark Five”

  1. IMHO these guys were good, perhaps great musicians given the times. They included the use of the sax and the organ; remember, this is 1964 we’re talking about when most bands consisted of a drummer, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and a bassist, none of which had to have any musical talent. For their time, the use of he sax and organ was innovative. Until Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, brass just wasn’t used. The DC 5 were innovative given their place in history. As to musicianship, these guys had it “all over” the Beatles’, at least until Sgt. Pepper’s. (I couldn’t resist.) But no, I didn’t see Having a Wild Weekend.

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