By Lee Zimmerman
No one can deny that Dave Clark, erstwhile namesake of the Dave Clark Five, can claim some pretty impressive credentials. As the band’s leader, manager, agent and keeper of the flame — and fame — he’s racked up an impressive career early on, one that includes championing the Tottenham Sound, accruing some 17 Top 40 hits in the U.S. between 1964 and 1967, challenging The Beatles to the role of leadership during the British Invasion, garnering more appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” than any other British Invasion band in history, and gaining induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, class of 2008.
Nevertheless, Clark’s career didn’t end there. Following the band’s break-up in 1970, he became a successful producer and promoter, gaining rights to the successful BBC series Ready, Steady. Go and writing, creating and staging a successful West End musical called Time, which later became a star studded recording featuring Leo Sayer, Dionne Warwick, Ashford & Simpson, Julian Lennon, and significantly, Freddie Mercury.
Recently, Clark had cause to revisit that effort, courtesy of a recording Mercury made for the production that’s been hidden in the vaults for the past 30 years. During a recent interview with Goldmine, Clark shared the discovery.
“I recorded some tracks which I wrote for Freddie,” Clark explained. “One of the tracks we recorded at Abbey Road featured just him on piano. So when we did the production, we had 48 tracks of backing vocals and the full production consisted of 96 tracks. It was mega and very successful. Initially, it sold over 7 million copies. Decades later, I went to the studio but I couldn’t find the original masters. In December of 2017, I found it. It was just Freddie and the piano. It was recorded without an audience, without a band, and it just shows how amazing he was, his voice. The song was called ‘Time Waits for No One.’ I wanted it to come out around the world at the same time. I also found the original video. It was shown on Top of the Pops. In those days, it was shot of four cameras, but the only version that was available was on two cameras. So I wanted to find the versions shot on the other two cameras. I found the negatives and we went to a studio with my film editor and looked at it and it was amazing. So we put together a promo video of the song, just Freddie on his own, and you can find it on YouTube. It’s gotten 20 million views.”
Indeed, it’s a remarkable video. Mercury gives a stunning performance as always, investing passion and purpose into every note. It’s dramatic and dynamic of course, easily equating to any effort he had ever done, either in the company of Queen or on his own. It also includes a clip of Clark and Mercury discussing the project and talking about what led to their collaboration. “Every performance is like a performance for thousands,” Clark says at one point, and given the results, one is compelled to agree.
Naturally, it begs the question of whether it might now be time — no pun intended — to rerelease the album with the solo Freddie track tacked on. Clark seems to demur. “I’ve been asked by many people w whether I would consider rerecording the music,” he said. “But we were so ahead of our time. Rerelease the album? I’ll think about it.”
Meanwhile, Clark thinks that the Mercury track may take on a life of its own. “This was going to come out last September,” he explains. “Then out of the blue, I decided I wanted to finish the Dave Clark Five album (the greatest hits release coming out this month), so we put it off until January.”
READ A FULL INTERVIEW WITH DAVE CLARK ON THE DC5 IN THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF GOLDMINE, ON NEWSSTANDS (select Barnes & Noble, Books A Million and record stores).
Clark said that there are some Dave Clark Five tracks which he hopes to release at some point — one of the songs on the new compilation, “Universal Love,” is one such unreleased recording — but he maintains that there are no live performances that could be deemed suitable for sharing due to the technology at the time.
“I would love to do that,” he concedes. “We were a great live band.”
As for any other project that might be forthcoming, Clark insists he’s really not certain.
“I don’t know and I’m being perfectly honest,” he replied. “The exciting thing about this business is that you don’t know what’s around the corner. If somebody had said years ago, I’d be going into theater, I wouldn’t have thought that. When someone came to me at this time last year and mentioned the Freddie Mercury track, it was so right. It had nothing to do with the movie. It was done before the movie (Bohemian Rhapsody) was done. I thought it would be wrong to bring it out before the movie. That would be very unprofessional of me, so I’ll wait to bring it out after the movie. It eventually came out after Elton’s movie (Rocket Man).”
Even in death, it appears, you can’t keep a man named Mercury down.