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The British Invasion – “Fake Rivalries.”

by Ashley Andersen
March 31, 2019
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If there had been a rock and roll Olympic Games in early 1964 during the British Invasion / Swinging ’60’s,  three bands would have medaled…The Beatles would have been awarded the gold medal, which is probably not shocking to you. The Rolling Stones would have taken the silver. But, you might be surprised to learn just who it was that would have earned the bronze medal in early 1964. It is most likely not your first guess… 

It was The Dave Clark Five.They sold a hundred million records during their career. Dave Clark was not only the band’s leader, drummer and back up singer. He also produced and managed and was a songwriter for the group as well. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan show eighteen times. They would knock The Beatles off of their number one status on USA music billboards charts and they were the first British Invasion band to tour the U.S.A. 

 Despite all their incredible success, why is it that most people only know Dave Clark and cannot name the other four members of his group? Why was a rivalry created between The Beatles and DC5? Did these two bands actually hate each other? How important is it to develop a rivalry in the entertainment world? What rivalries – fake or real exist in the music world today? 

Before we examine the supposed “rivalry” between The Beatles and DC5, I think it is important to provide some context regarding just how prevalent rivalries are in the U.K. in general in and outside of the music world. A great way to explore this topic is by watching the movie, “The Football Factory,” starring East London born and raised actor Danny Dyer

This movie highlights the brutal rivalries between “U.K. football hooligans” and all the “football firms”, who were fanatically loyal to their various hometown football teams. These extremely violent conflicts were comparable to battles exchanged between The Bloods and The Crips in the U.S.A…

The Beatles

An early Beatles promotional pic taken in the Mersey Beat Newspaper 1962. This is a pic of John Lennon, a seventeen year old George Harrison, Paul McCartney and their original drummer Pete Best. Ultimately, Best would get fired. Two days later, he was replaced by Ringo Starr. Copyright: Mersey Beat Newspaper Archives. This image shows how proud folks, who were born and raised in Liverpool were of The Beatles… Copyright: Mersey Beat Magazine.

In 1962, Lennon and McCartney wrote “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” in the basement of actress Jane Asher’s abode. Jane Asher was McCartney’s girlfriend at the time. It was The Beatle’s first song to be recorded on a 4 – track recorder. On February 26, 1963, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” was number a one hit in the U.S.A. and “across the pond,” in the U.K. On February 16, 1964, The Beatles performed the song on the Ed Sullivan Show. This televised performance created an instant media frenzy that completely enveloped The Beatles for the remainder of their career.

The Beatles performing their number one hit, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” live on the Ed Sullivan Show. The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and released November 29, 1963 (UK) and December 26th, 1963 (USA) It is from the album “Meet The Beatles,” from Parliphone (UK) and Capital Records (USA). It was produced by George Martin.

The Dave Clark Five (DC5)

Early promotional shot of The Dave Clark five. Starting from upper left: Lenny Davidson – guitar and backing vocals, Dennis Payton – saxophones and backing vocals, Mike Smith – lead vocalist and keyboards, Rick Huxley bass and  backing vocals and Dave Clark drummer backing vocals. Copyright: Rex Features LTD / REBELSHOT.

DC5 first formed as a quintet jazz band in 1957. The band consisted of band leader Dave Clark, drummer, background vocals, songwriter, Dennis Payton – saxophones, background vocals, Lenny Davidson – guitar, background vocals, Rick Huxley – bassist, background vocals, Mike Smith – lead vocals and keyboardist. They adapted and changed their sound as rock and roll became more popular. 

DC5 hailed from North London and the group was proudly called “The Tottenham Sound.” This was in direct response to the Mersey Beat sound being popularized by The Beatles and Gerry and The Pacemakers, and many other bands, who also hailed from Liverpool. The DC5 song “Glad All Over” knocked The Beatles song, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” off of the number one position on the U.K. music hit charts in January 1964.

For a while, it seemed as though DC5 were really giving The Beatle a run for their money literally! DC5 had a keyboardist and saxophonist, which in the early stages of The Beatles career did not have. This would change later on in their career when producer George Martin would add many more instrumentation and orchestral instruments to their songs. 

Also, in the latter part of their career, Billy Preston would play keyboards frequently on their last albums such as their smash hit song “Get Back,” which The Beatles performed live on their famous rooftop concert on the rooftop of their personally owned record label Apple Records. In 1969. Preston was often regarded as the “fifth’ Beatle. Preston also played “keys” for The Rolling Stones, George Harrison during his solo career and many, many other superstar musical acts. It is also very interesting to note that John Lennon performs all the guitar solos in this rendition of the song rather than traditionally done by lead guitarist, George Harrison…

If you look closely at the beginning of this video, one can see Billy Preston walking out with the rest of The Beatles. However, in “Get Back” Preston is not featured playing keyboards in this live performance. However, one can see Yoko Ono, who would become John Lennon’s second wife and the love of his life.

So… What was the real story behind closed doors or backstage? Did The Beatles and DC5 actually really hate each other? In 2014, at a ceremony commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the British Invasion,  Sir Paul McCartney had this to say to reporters regarding his thoughts about DC5 and their hit “Glad All Over:”

“Glad All Over” came on the scene and it was a really good record. The band looked great, so you had to hand it to them reluctantly…” 

When Dave Clark was asked recently whether there was an actual rivalry between The Beatles and DC5 he said: 

“No… For the first two years in America, all the magazines could print was Dave Clark vs. The Beatles, as if there was a big thing. I got on well with the boys. They’d come to my parties and I’d go to theirs. They were great fun to spend time with…” 

This proves that the rivalry between The Beatles and DC5 was just a made up media marketing tool to generate publicity and sell newspapers.

Why are rivalries created by the media such a powerful marketing tool? Ed Sullivan, American television personality, sports and entertainment reporter is perhaps the best qualified person to answer this question.

For twenty three years, he hosted the longest running variety show in American broadcast history. The Beatles appeared on his show nine times and DC5 made eighteen appearances… He said this about booking these two “rival” bands on his show: 

“Rivalries are important in generating publicity. I suspect neither would have had as much impact on the USA record and radio scene without the other. With the two generating the sales and publicity, it opened the USA to greet many other rock performers from the UK…”

Moreover, Sullivan’s point is proven even more, if you take a look at the “Thrilla in Manilla.” This was the highly anticipated fight between boxers, Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazer. The hype  and publicity created by this famous rivalry was tremendous.

 Ultimately, the fight was watched by over a billion viewers.The fight between Ali and Frazer occurred in 1975. There was no internet or social media. It was up to magazines and promoters, magazines and the media to generate publicity for the fight. Obviously, it worked!

 “The Thrilla in Manilla” promo poster for the highly anticipated boxing match between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazer.  Copyright, All Canada Sports Promotions archives.

It is abundantly clear that DC5 had an amazing career. So, why did DC5 not become a household name like The Beatles? Why is it today if people are asked if they can name all of the five members of the group most folks cannot. Was it due to lack of promotion? DC5 Bassist Rick Huxley had this to say regarding promotion of the DC5:

“Lord, no. And you’re mistaken to think the DC5 didn’t have “PR promotion.” They were relentlessly promoted. Magazines of the time created a fake “rivalry,” constantly running articles about who’s better/cuter/bigger. Think Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry times 1,000…”

~ Karen Fowler, “Office Drone Magazine.”

My personal theory as to why DC5 is not as well known as The Beatles is this… The media focused heavily on The Beatles as individuals during all interviews with the band throughout their entire career. This is why most people can name all four members: John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. With DC5, all interviews concentrated on the band’s namesake Dave Clark. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, Clark was the groups band leader, manager, songwriter and the bands head PR man.

It is also important to note that the The Beatles enjoyed pushing the envelope with their sound. They loved experimenting with instruments and sounds such as harmonium and fuzz bass. This can be heard in albums such as Rubber Soul, which was the group’s sixth studio recorded album released in 1965. As most of us know, The Beatles enjoyed experimenting outside of the studio by trying drugs such as LSD. These experiences that “the lads” shared together would change their sound forever….

The Beatles also incorporated non western musical instruments such as the sitar and tabla drums heard in the song “Within you without you” written by George Harrison and accompanied by the late, great sitar player Ravi Shankar (father of the beautiful singer, pianist and songwriter Norah Jones.) Like her father, Jones is also incredibly talented and successful musician in her own right. She has sold over 50 million records globally.) The half sister of Norah Jones, Anoushka Shankar would go on to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming an accomplished and respected sitar player. Ravi Shankar, dear friend and sitar teacher to George Harrison would continue to collaborate together after The Beatles break up.

While DC5’s songs “Glad All Over,” “Bits and Pieces,” and “Catch Us If You Can” are wonderful, their music in general tended to have a consistent, up tempo and “big beat” sound. They never deviated much from their particular sound. Ultimately, DC5’s  career would last until 1970. Dave Clark explains why he and his bandmates decided to call it quits. 

“People never understood why I did that, but I wanted to get back to being just an ordinary person. I enjoyed every moment. We’d been everywhere, done everything. I just wanted to get back to being just Dave Clark not Dave Clark Celebrity. The only thing I missed was going out on stage and performing…” 

Before you start to feel too bad for Dave Clark, keep in mind that he retained most of the rights to all of DC5’s song catalog. This is something that The surviving Beatles have still never managed to acquire…

 Clark also managed to acquire the rights to the 1960’s pop series “Ready Steady, Go!” He directed a musical, “Time – The Musical,” which would be the last performance given by the great actor, singer Sir Lawrence Oliver. This musical is a two disc vinyl album was released featuring, Julian Lennon, the late great Freddie Mercury and many other legendary performers.  Dave Clark was at Freddie Mercury’s bedside during his final hours on this earth…

Handsome Dennis Payton died on December 17, 2006 after a long battle with cancer. He was 63 years old. Rick Huxley died on February 11, 2013 from emphysema. Guitarist Lenny Davidson lives in Cambridgeshire, England, where he has taught guitar for many years. 

 The saddest story however, is what happened to DC5’s lead singer Mike Smith… He broke his neck while attempting to scale a fence on his property in Spain. As a result, he  and sustained a terrible spine injury and became paralyzed. His former DC5 would come to visit him often He died from pneumonia in 2008 with his devoted wife at his side…. 

Death and Assassinations: The Beatles

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman. Lennon had signed an autograph for Chapman just hours earlier. Lennon personally never believed in using bodyguards snd this decision would ultimately prove to be incredibly tragic…

 Chapman waited for hours for Lennon to return to his home The Dakota apartment buildings in New York City. When Lennon and second wife Yoko Ono stepped out of their vehicle, Chapman waited patiently as the couple walked towards the entryway of their residence. The coward and cruel Chapman fired five shots hitting Lennon in the back four times… It has been said by doctors that Lennon could have possibly survived the first four shots. But it was Chapman’s final shot that pierced straight through his heart, which completely obliterated it…

Chapman had once been a fan of The Beatles. But he became enraged when Lennon made a highly publicized and controversial comment during an interview with The Beatles early on during their career. 

To paraphrase Lennon, he said that the public was more obsessed with his band The Beatles than Jesus Christ… He further argued that the Christian faith was in decline and just might be outlasted by rock and roll. Unfortunately for Lennon, these comment would ultimately seal his demise… 

 Mark David Chapman was completely obsessed with the book The Catcher in the Rye by author, J.D. Salinger. Chapman tried in every way possible to live his life exactly the way the books main character Holden Caulfied. He also was obsessed with musician and songwriter Todd Rundgren. Chapman also had plans to kill Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor and former President Ronald Reagan… Chapman’s wife knew about his plans to kill Lennon. However, she chose not to notify police or other authorities…

Mark David Chapman has been denied being eligible for parole ten times…Yoko Ono sent a letter to the parole board requesting that he not be released from prison. New York State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio in 1980, was the chairman of the Crime and Correction Committee, also wrote to Parole Board. In this letter , he wrote:

“It is the responsibility of the New York State Parole Board to ensure that public safety is protected from the release of dangerous criminals like Chapman.

George Harrison playing sitar live. To his right was his dear friend and sitar teacher, Ravi Shankar. 

In 2001, George Harrison had surgery to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs.  Unfortunately for Harrison he also developed a brain tumor. Harrison chose to go to a clinic in Switzerland in the hopes of removing the brain tumor. Former bandmate Ringo Starr visited him but his was time with Harrison was very short. He had to fly to Boston because his daughter had also been diagnosed with a brain tumor! 

Both Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr visited George one last time… Harrison ultimately died from lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58. This was just two years he and his wife Olivia Harrison survived terrifying a knife attack by a deranged intruder at their Friar Park home…

 His remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered according to Hindu tradition in a private ceremony in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India. In addition to his former wife, George Harrison is also survived by his son and musician Dhani Harrison, who looks remarkably like his late father!

Are there still fake rivalries fake or real that exist in music industry today? The answer is “You Betcha!” Just think of the rivalries between East and West coast rappers. Also for years, the media has tried to pit Rihanna and Beyonce against one another. Both singers are award winning superstars. The media LOVES to remind people that Rihanna has had more number one hits than Beyonce… Rihanna had this say regarding the supposed feud or hatred between the two superstars

“They (the media) just get so excited to feast on something that’s negative. Something that’s competitive. Something that’s you know, a rivalry. And that’s just not what I wake up to. Because I can only do me. And nobody else is going to be able to do that…” 

Rihanna’s quote proves that the media will always and create fake rivalries  in an attempt to generate more sales / viewers for magazines, TV shows and in the music industry…