By John “Jay Jay” French
As I frequently do when writing this column, I close my eyes and go back to certain times in my life (in this case, 1964 post-Beatles arrival) and try to channel my memory as to how Beatlemania and the entire British Invasion affected my life.
It is nearly impossible to explain the incredible emotional disparity between the year 1963 (the Kennedy assassination year) and 1964 (The Beatles arrival year). These events, separated by only two months, took me, and millions of my peers, from the lowest low to the highest high.
But it wasn’t just The Beatles arrival, it was the entire change of the music scene. Our AM radios were seemingly, overnight, overtaken by new heroes. All these new bands were coming over in droves.
The first post-Beatles band to hit the airwaves and come crashing into my consciousness was The Dave Clark Five, with the song “Glad All Over.”
I remember watching the evening news eery night after the arrival of The Beatles and listening for any Beatles news updates. Only two weeks after The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan and with three songs in the Top 10 (“I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You” and “Please Please Me”), The Searchers (quietly) with “Needles and Pins,” The Swinging Blue Jeans with “Hippy Hippy Shake” and The Dave Clark Five with “Glad All Over” were now in the Top 30 on my local radio station, WABC.
The national news shows disregarded The Searchers and The Swinging Blue Jeans (I don’t know why) and concentrated on The Dave Clark Five: “The English rock and roll band that can knock The Beatles off of the top of the charts!”
Perhaps it just made for good television but I remembered that newsreel footage showed thousands of young girls screaming at a U.K. concert of The Dave Clark Five with the announcer saying that the DC5 were going to be the next Beatles.
It certainly looked like Dave Clark Mania was coming!
And why not? “Glad All Over” was power pop at its most intense. The song drove through the radio like a jet engine and the machine-like pounding of the drums. Plus, the vocals of Mike Smith were so self-assured and commanding, it almost made you feel like you were at a parade and had to stand at attention! The sax added yet another element to the powerful sound.
The song was mesmerising as it poured out of my little transistor radio with the one-inch speaker and, in my memory, the song went to No. 1.
It had to!
Here’s the thing: I don’t have a scientific study of the following analysis but here it goes: Right now, if you asked my peers (those who were born in the early 1950s and were most affected by the music of the British Invasion) and asked them to tell you which British Invasion (BI) band was the next to reach No. 1 in the U.S. after The Beatles, my guess is that most would say The Rolling Stones.
Because most people, out of habit, mention these two bands (The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) together as a quick historical reference.
But the Stones didn’t have their first No. 1, “Satisfaction,” until the summer of 1965; that is a year-and-a-half after The Beatles hit No. 1 with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
So, I’m writing this appreciation of The Dave Clark Five thinking that “Glad All Over” had to be the first post-Beatles BI band to hit No. 1.
When I researched it and found that “Glad All Over” didn’t hit No. 1, I thought for sure that the follow up “Bits and Pieces” went to No. 1. Nope.
Neither did (among others): “Do You Love Me,” “Can’t You See That She’s Mine,” “Anyway You Want It,” “Catch Us If You Can,” “Because,”“You Got What It Takes”... I remember these songs like it was yesterday. And I would have bet the farm that many, if not all, went to No. 1 on WABC in New York City.
To further illustrate the immense popularity of the DC5, here is yet another example: The Ed Sullivan show, the show that ‘broke The Beatles’ in the U.S. and remained the most influential outlet for almost all of the British Invasion bands, had The Dave Clark Five on a record-breaking 18 times. More than any other rock act!
The Beatles only appeared on The Ed Sullivan show nine times.
This only underscores how big the DC5 were from 1964 to 1966.
For this article, I went back to watch the videos of DC5, and what I saw was a band of incredible musicians with an almost militaristic and regimented single-minded approach to style and presentation that belied a professionalism probably unequalled among all of the other BI bands (except The Beatles).
I can only imagine how great they must have been live. Dave Clark, on the drums, seemed to preside over a machine and he knew the results of that kind of performance discipline.
The band’s stage choreography and dress code further underscored the detail that band leader Dave Clark imposed to create a monolithic impression.
I also now understand Dave Clark’s affect on the E Street Band’s drummer Max Weinberg. Max sits on his drum throne the same way Clark did and plays with the same kind of command and determination.
So, getting back to my memory of the importance of the DC5 in the chronological hierarchy of BI bands, this is what I learned: The next BI artist to hit No. 1 after The Beatles was Peter and Gordon with “World Without Love” followed by “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” from Manfred Mann and then “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals.
Also hitting No. 1 before the DC5 were Freddie and the Dreamers and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Amazingly, The Dave Clark Five didn’t hit the No. 1 spot (and they only did that once in the U.S.) with “Over and Over” in November 1965, almost two years after the Beatles hit the U.S.
Unlike The Beatles, the DC5 never morphed into an ‘album band’ and because of that, they have had a limited historical impact on the popular music scene and the evolution of the BI bands.
That is unfortunate as they are certainly one of the greatest of all British Invasion bands that helped redefine the music of the 1960s. I love them! And this is coming from one of the most dedicated Beatles fans.
Jay Jay French is the founding member, guitarist and manager of Twisted Sister. French is also a motivational speaker and writes a business column for Inc. com.