Not feeling "Glad All Over"

DC5I recently watched the film, Glad All Over: The Dave Clark Five and Beyond, which was telecast by PBS in its Great Performances series. As a classic rock fan, especially of the British Invasion of the mid-60s, I found it refreshing at first—mainly because there’s been so little DC5 material available to enjoy over the years.

By the end of the program, however, some things were starting to bother me. I realized the film, produced by Dave Clark International, was not your usual fact-based documentary. This was essentially a hagiography of Clark and the band, produced and directed by Clark himself, which PBS showed as a puff piece. There was celebrity after celebrity rhapsodizing about the DC5 as rock revolutionaries. Meanwhile there was not a whiff of the controversies surrounding the band and Clark’s management of it.

But before I continue, I should acknowledge that anytime I criticize fellow musicians, even mega-successful ones, I feel conflicted. So to assuage my guilt I will start with some positives.

The film shows the band performing many of their infectious hits, all delivered with a solid backbeat and large dollops of feel-good energy. In person or on television the Dave Clark Five always performed full-out and never mailed it in. (Ok, they lip-synched on TV, but most bands did then, and not as enthusiastically as the DC5.) They frequently drove fans (mostly teen girls, when I saw them in person) into paroxysms of hysteria, with their “stomping rhythm” driven by drummer Dave Clark himself—a decent musician who, as manager and producer, made sure the drums were visually featured on stage and auditorily featured on record. (The snare drum was cranked up so much louder than any other instrument on their records that it got the attention of teenage drummers everywhere—like myself, who wanted to start a band that featured drumming like that.)

Also, they were vocally propelled by charismatic keyboardist Mike Smith, whose gritty singing (e.g., “You Got What It Takes”) earned him plaudits (at least by fellow musicians) as a top rock vocalist. In addition, the band featured a capable sax player, Denis Payton, who evoked the rootsy, raunchy rock & roll sound of the 50s.

But what most fans don't know—and the film didn’t mention—is that the band was never really a band. At least in the sense that their compatriots were (The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, etc.). It was Dave Clark plus four hired hands who had little say in the business—and did not have an equal share in the group's royalties. (Now these were good hired hands, musicians well-liked and well-respected in the biz—especially Mike Smith—but "contract labor" nonetheless.)

One of the attractions for me of rock bands—and one reason I use them as examples of effective business teams—is that nearly all of the great ones have been democratically run, whereby major decisions (like choosing a manager, deciding when to tour, picking what material to record) required a majority if not unanimous vote.

So whenever I come across a band that is/was run as a dictatorship—like the DC5, or to a lesser extent the Eagles—I’m disappointed. And I’m left wondering how much better they could have been if there was collaboration among equals.

There is also the issue that Dave Clark apparently didn’t play drums on their records until 1966. This doesn’t bother me as much as it does some critics, because Clark was in fact a pretty good drummer. He felt, as producer, he wanted to save time in the studio by getting one of the best in the business, Bobby Graham, to play the drums parts. Yet this was a closely guarded secret for years.

But the major problem I have is that several of the DC5 biggest hits were apparently written by the band’s friend, Ron Ryan, who after a certain point was never given songwriting credit or royalties. There are witnesses to the fact that Ryan wrote several of their big hits (including “Bits and Pieces,” “Anyway You Want It,” and the pop classic “Because”) though he was reluctant to take Clark to court over it, for fear of its adverse effect on his friends in the band. In the end he mistakenly signed away his rights to the songs for a “settlement” with Clark that did not include royalties. And to his surprise he received no other acknowledgment of his authorship of the songs.

The fact that Clark was able to get songwriter credit on the DC5 songs that Ryan wrote might be considered by some to be smart business. But as an erstwhile friend—and fellow musician—Clark could at least have given Ryan verbal credit for writing the songs, instead of claiming authorship for himself. (Interestingly, according to several sources, Clark forbade any of his band members to associate with Ryan after the settlement was made.)

The documentary didn’t mention any of this, because, well, the film was produced by Clark. And I haven’t heard even one reviewer cry foul!

A final point... In their early days there were lots of comparisons between the Dave Clark Five and The Beatles. They both had big hits and a huge fan base in England in 1963 and the DC5 knocked “I Want to Hold Your Hand” out of the #1 spot in the UK with “Glad All Over.” Both groups went on to have wildly successful tours and chart success in the States.

But what wasn’t so obvious then became obvious within a few years: the DC5 were entertainers while The Beatles were creative artists, who had no interest in toeing the line or playing it safe. The Fab Four (instigated by John Winston Lennon) had a wider appeal over time because of their edge, their defiance, and their unpredictability. (There was also, of course, the songwriting talent of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.)

What gives teams an advantage—teams of any kind in just about any industry—is often a willingness to try new things, to shake things up, to trash convention.

It’s called innovation. And it’s a team sport.

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  1. As usual john, your thinking is crisp and clear. I enjoyed the piece, but primarily because I'm sentimental and it felt good to see the DC5 again. It reminded me of the generalized excitement that seemed to permeate almost everything at that time.

    Warm fuzzies aside though, your points and observations are all valid.

    I think the label credits always showed the authors as Clark & Mike Smith, but clark probably did take all of the publishing and he may even have, just speculating here, contracted Mike to write for a lower rate than a customary 50/50 split would've given him.

    On one hand, I say, "Well, that IS good business from Clark's perspective," but on the other, I just feel it's wrong, even if both parries really know all the implications before they sign.

    Some guys, Ozzy is a case in point, still do that today. I was telling a good friend who's worked extensively with both him and Zakk Wylde, that among the later tunes Ozzie's written, one I still like a lot is PERRY MASON. My friend laughed and said, "Zakk wrote that tune. That's what the deal is when you work with Ozzie." It's not technically a ripoff, Zakk's not a dummy and I'm sure he's making all his Writer Royalties, but Ozzie probably does own all the publishing and there's that implication, certainly from the buying public's perspective that the REAL creative force is one person, when in fact the "secondary players" are the ones who supply most of the actual music.

    Sorry for the ramble, John

    1. As a retired 'has been' successful American Baby Boomer Radio Personality, plus a working musician since 1968, I always wondered why in the 80s, when 'OLDIES' Radio came alive....we seldom heard DCV songs?
      A friend of late Mike Smith's told me, when I mentioned this, that Mike missed the financial boat by declining permission for CDs and Oldies Radio.
      He later regretted it, as much as the Steppenwolf boys did, when they signed all future royalties over to John Kay, just prior to Cds.
      It sucked the wind outta me to learn that the Wrecking Crew, in the USA, or Studio boys like Bobby Graham in the UK, actually played on ALL the Hit Songs we grew up on. If weren't for the Internet, we'd still be dellusional, thinking the music biz is Art. Ain't that a shame?
      As Fans and Artists, we grew up looking at the record songmaking task as an Art......when in fact it is a dog eat dog business and nothing more.
      "Ya have to be a Lawyer just to get outta bed."

  2. I loved those times too, Tim. And Dave Clark's (or Bobby Graham's) drumming got me going as a musician. I liked a lot of the tunes, especially the ones Ryan wrote! I wish he had gotten his due. "Because" was a beautifully written pop song.

    I just came across an article that hyped the PBS program as "the untold story of the Dave Clark Five." Riiiight.

    1. Bruce, to his credit, lavishes praise on ALL his rock & roll "ancestors." (He's especially generous to one-hit-wonders. And the DC5 were more than one-hit-wonders.) Paul, as I remember, didn't rave about the band, but just provided some historical context. But Elton and Stevie—and Whoopi Goldberg (?)—were pretty effusive in their acknowledgments. It's possible that none of them knew about the songwriting controversies—or about DC's tight grip on the band. According to everything I've read, Clark's non-compete clauses wouldn't even allow Mike Smith to advertise on his tours that he had played in the DC5! That made it nearly impossible for Smith—supposedly Clark's good friend—to revive his career. If true, that's a damning indictment.

      If I didn't know about any of this I too would be on the band wagon (as it were). The DC5 were a major (and under-appreciated) contributor to rock's comeback in the 60s. But ironically if Clark hadn't withheld DC5 product for decades they could have been bigger.

      1. Exactly, Glenn. And that's my gripe. There are plenty of documentaries that give appropriate credit to their subject and still mention—even if briefly—some negatives, which are always there. If I had the time, money, and interest I'd do a documentary that gives the band—including all its members—the credit it deserves. But the documentary wouldn't be a hagiography.

  3. Fear-driven leadership always has an unpleasant aroma.

    I've always been baffled by the Lennon/McCartney credit. John says, here and there, "That's Paul's song" and others are clearly John all over. I'll have to back up in Jude's series and see why they settled on shared credits all 'round.

    A different take on credit, from David Burkus' super book "The Myths of Creativity" -- the inventors who worked for Edison soon learned that a new invention from Bob Smith landed with a thud in the silence. "Another wonder from Thomas Edison" was widely acclaimed -- and sold.

    Edison didn't badger his workers into giving him credit. Rather, all realized the value of publicly calling them all Edison's inventions, even though the patents were all awarded to the individuals responsible.

    As a songwriter, I've thought much about this. If by some miracle Alan Jackson wanted to record one of my songs, but wanted to buy writing credit as well, it'll never happen. No, I'm not in much danger of having to choose, but for me, artistic acknowledgement trumps financial rewards every single time.

    And any situation where I give up both just ain't gonna happen.

    1. Damn. Another book I've got to get.

      Yeah, artistic acknowledgment trumps financial rewards for me too. (That's why we're both independently wealthy, eh?)

      1. David's book is an easy read. Not simple, but so well-written (like Jude's books) that it flows faster than some chuggers I've mined my way through.

        Let's have that money conversation 18 months from now, when I have a dozen mysteries published and even an album or two of my music.

        Or, we'll go for "rich in spirit" or, my preference, Rolf Potts' method of measuring wealth, by measuring the time we spend doing what we choose rather than what we're obligated to.

    2. As a fellow songwriter, Joel, I hear you. I remember being told years ago, "No deal is always better than a bad deal." If more writers...and all musicians for that matter took more of a firm stand, the bottom feeders [and we know the biz has many] would have a harder time ripping people off.

      I think it was Warner/Reprise who thirty something years ago offered Joni Mitchell a couple of hundred thousand for all her publishing, but she's a smart lady and even back then she stood firm and now of course the catalog is worth many millions.

      For me is even more about basic right and wrong than it is about dollars. That whole Situational Ethics kind of thinking sickens me: "If it's not technically illegal, I can get away with it and I gain from it, then it's okay.

      But then, many would say, "If you want honesty you're in the wrong business."

  4. Hi !
    just a question, if Clark didn't play drums , who played the drums on live gigs? I mean, in these days is pretty easy play pre-recorded segments/instruments on stage (and it sounds pretty real, for example: The Who and their John Entwistle duet with Zak Starkey),but back in the 60s?
    Love your view about the dvd!!!!

    kind regards

    1. Dave Clark played drums live, and quite capably. That's what's so interesting about this. He hired a studio drummer but he was an above average drummer himself. Apparently he realized that as a producer he'd save a lot of time — and get a better result — if he hired the best musicians. (I learned the same thing in the studio. For my own tracks I hired drummer Dave Mattacks — who's played on albums by McCartney, Elton John, etc. — to save time and money even though I could have played drums.)

  5. It was pointed out to me that the "contracted" members of the DC5 (Smith, Davidson, Payton, Huxley) did take the lead creatively in some ways—writing and arranging many of their hits (as well as singing and playing on them of course)—so I deleted "four hired hands who had little creative say—or stake—in the product" and replaced it with "four hired hands who had little say in the business—and did not have an equal share in the group's royalties." If it's true that the four made more of a creative contribution than Clark himself—as some allege—it's even MORE troubling that they didn't fully share in the royalties. It might be a smart business move on Clark's part, but an exploitative one.

  6. Your story is interesting, and it is a shame that Dave Clark has withheld writing credits from Ron Ryan. Dave Clark has been called a smart businessman, but in my eyes, his behavior has left an astounding gap in the meaning of friendship. Everyone must decide for themselves how to define success. So, when I hear that beautiful song "Because," and the other Ryan compositions, I will only see a writer, who succeeded, not a phony businessman. The truth shall set you free, but only if you are strong enough to face it.

    1. I often go to hear RON sing and prompt him to sing his OWN compositions, and say to him TELL them they are YOUR songs, he writes some brilliant songs, and puts them accross lovely, & sound great when backed by the KNIGHTS, but hopefully he will be recognised for his god given TALENT, all the best RON DEN

  7. It's horrible the way that writers and performers were treated by record companies, I.e., John Fogerty, however, when your ripped off by a friend, as Clarke supposedly was, that's the bottom of the bottom. The guy is a control freak and a cheat!

  8. There are references throughout here regarding the DC 5 playing live, but I find it curious that nothing truly live has ever been posted to YouTube except for the Royal Command Performance and one badly recorded audio. I did come across a Sullivan video where there was a backing track failure (twice) and Mike Smith looked a bit disgusted once the tape started rolling for them to sing to. You can fall over and come across a live Beatle performance (TV show, concert or home movie) but nothing on the DC5. Did Dave have THAT much control??

  9. I wonder why it's so hard to reach Lenny via social media. The guitarist probably has a lot to say on the subject.

  10. I suspect that Lenny and the others each signed non-disclosure agreements in favor of our boy Dave.

  11. Your post is spot on and I truly wish more people would speak out about this and somebody needs to produce the definitive Dave Clark 5 biography and video. I was very disappointed after purchasing Dave Clark's fictionalized version.

    I will only disagree with you on one point. There are many successful bands that were lead in a non-democratic way including The Kinks, The Who, CCR, The Eagles and Alice Cooper to name a few. In the case of the Eagles and the Rolling Stones for that matter, they were more of a two headed dictator. At least Henley and Frey would sometimes allow a writing credit to other band members. I don't believe Jagger and Richards did.

    1. One of these days I'll go into this more deeply. CCR and The Eagles were run more dictatorially, and probably Alice Cooper. (I never thought of AC as a democratic band to begin with, but I don't know much about them, though my band opened for them once.) But The Who are interesting because they loudly (and sometimes violently) hashed things out among themselves until they developed a working consensus. And there was certainly not ONE leader there. The Kinks too fought among themselves—physically—especially between the brothers, so there was no genuflection to Ray Davies. And in some of these classic rock bands the members WILLINGLY ceded leadership to one person, which isn't anti-democratic. (That's how Green Day does it, btw, though they're not a classic rock band.)

      Years later, after founding members left these bands, the remaining members often treated later members as contractors—especially for reunion tours—which I have no problem with.

  12. On the songs credited to Clark-Smith, is it true that MIke Smith wrote them by himself? Thank you for this blog!

    1. Rich, I wouldn't be shocked at that. Given that it's doubtful that DC wrote anything, I would assume if Mike's name is attached he wrote the whole thing, unless it's one Ron Ryan has claimed.

      Btw, despite all the criticism he's received—which I think is deserved—Clark WAS the business prime mover here. It's to his credit that he assembled and produced an impressive band that recorded many memorable, uplifting hits—and put on a live great show. Clark had many assets, including brains, talent, and discipline. But had he surrendered more control to his musician friends—especially over time—I feel the band could have gone so much further. And there wouldn't be the lingering resentment we hear from many sides.

      High ethics/integrity and a good business sense aren't mutually exclusive. Which reminds me, I don't think I've yet written about Sid Bernstein, the promoter who brought The Beatles to America. He epitomized those qualities.

    2. I recall an interview with Mike Smith not too many years before his death where he said Dave told him we need a finished song the next day and Mike went home and completed "Glad All Over". Wish I could remember where I found this interview.

      This all sounds plausible when you consider every song written by either Mike, Lenny or Denis had Dave Clark himself credited as a co-writer. Anyone that knows anything about songwriting can figure out its highly unlikely Dave had significant involvement with writing all of those songs. Also, the songs credited only to Clark ("Because", "Anyway You Want It") are the ones that have been purported to have been written by Ron Ryan.

      1. Ijeff, I get such a kick when I get comments on this post seven years later! (It's probably gotten the most eyeballs of all 300 of my posts over the last 18 years.) What you say about Mike Smith certainly sounds plausible. I really should track down Ron Ryan for an interview, assuming he's still alive (and assuming I am).

        1. Hello, Mr. O'Leary,

          You will find that Mr. Ryan left a comment on my YouTube video today. I responded to him that you wanted to interview him.

  13. Thanks, AC. Much appreciated. Any idea how I might reach Ron? I could do an email interview with him.

    1. Looks like Ron has made contact with you right here, John. Don't let this opportunity for an interview escape you. It would become quite the historical document. I'll look forward to seeing it on YouTube (or here).

      You guys could connect together via Zoom or Skype... could do your video 'solo' asking Ron questions. Ron would watch your video that you upload to YouTube or email to him, and he could make his solo video answering your questions. You or Ron or a third party could then combine both videos into one video.

      I'll look forward to watching the completed project.

      1. Thanks for your support, AC. We'll be doing the interview in the coming days—by email, given Ron's preference. This may open up yet another interesting chapter in the never-ending DC5 drama!

  14. Hello, John & Ron

    Just think...we have 3 International music buffs here at the bottom of this thread, discussing an upcoming interview of a songwriting Legend. 1 lives in Britain, 1 in Canada, and 1 in the USA.

    And while separated by great distances, we still managed to get the interview going.

    Even our Countries political leaders over the past few years more often than not, couldn't find common ground to get anything going.

    But we 3 did.

    Fortunately for us though, now that a Village Idiot is no longer one of those leaders, things will get going Internationally and make good things happen. LOL ;-)

    1. Yes, the idiot is back in his village—for now at least. Perhaps cats can start sleeping with dogs. Perhaps Dave Clark will make good with Ron Ryan. Perhaps Paul McCartney will make good with Pete Best. Hope springs eternal.

        1. Fair point, Christian, but an apology might have been nice too. Paul (and George and John) never deigned to speak to Pete again. And the three had Brian Epstein do the dirty work of breaking the news to Pete that he was no longer a Beatle.

  15. The entire Dave Clark Five catalog, Vol. 1- Vol. 7. is available on EMI- Japan, from a company in Russia. Released in 2017. I'm telling you guys this even tho I think TRUMP is our savior. DC5 albums sound great on CD. 3 albums per CD. Enjoy,. I Am

    1. Sorry, a fly landed on my screen so I almost read 'Trump' and 'Saviour' in the same sentence! That would be funny wouldn't it? ?
      Leaving false religion out of this, yes DC5 were indeed one of the best of the British Invasion bands but trying to discredit Clark won't work and it's obvious why, $$. Ron Ryan wasn't one of the 5 but sure did write some great tunes but shouldn't have given away his rights so easily maybe, I don't know. Taking this issue to court back then might have been a better decision, however it also may have eliminated this whole anti-DC movement that's sprung up today and that would've left so many with nothing to whine and gossip about. Didn't happen but things can change and miracles do still happen, but in the end, business is business, and not for the weak of heart.
      DC5 will live on in the hearts of millions!

    2. Thanks, Marc! Good to know.

      Regarding Trump, he would be the first Savior whose 12 apostles (his advisors—I can name each one) have ALL been convicted or indicted for crimes. He'd be the first Savior who's had two dozen women accuse him of sexual misconduct, including rape and sexual assault (he's called them nearly all of them "liars"). And of course he lied to his nation about a deadly pandemic when coming clean might have saved a half million lives. He also falsely claimed to have won an election he lost (which his own Attorney General and numerous Republican state election officials agreed he legitimately lost) and encouraged a mob of thugs to violently attack the US Capitol and try to overthrow the election. And then there's the five criminal investigations against his organization. I could go on. There's a decent chance we'll see him in a jumpsuit in the coming years.

    1. Thanks for the input, Ayrton! And I'm sure Ron appreciates your acknowledgment of his contributions to the DC5.

  16. What Dave Clark allegedly did is nothing new in the music business. Check out how many of Chuck Berry's songs are falsely co-credited to Alan Freed. Or why for years Elvis only recorded songs in which his manager had a share in the publishing rights. All too often, show business = dirty business.

  17. I am in my 70s and collect all things 60s music wise. I try to collect the complete single, EP and LP output of the best of the sixties artists. I have completed, the Beatles,Stones, Searchers and I have begun collecting the DC5 catalogue. The American output completely dominates the English releases, but it has to be said that many of these LP releases are of a poor standard with few memorable tracks except for the hits.
    I bought the original ' Catch Us if You Can' L.P. at the time of the films release and was more than disappointed to find that the best tracks 'Wild Weekend ' and 'When' weren't on it and you had to purchase the EP.
    The problem with the DC5 was that they never progressed, I'm sure that if Mike and the other boys had more of a say then better material would have been forthcoming.
    On the whole the singles are all good and I especially liked 'Tabitha Twitchet' and 'Look before you leap'
    Dave was a fool not to let his back catalogue be released until the 90s.
    Unfortunately, the band is not very well respected by my fellow musicians which is a shame because Mike had a wonderful blues oriented voice.
    However, I shall keep collecting even the obscure tracks like 'Shout ' was it ever released in any format ?
    It's good to go back to listen and learn and I have learnt a lot since I started. It's so sad that Dave wouldn't share the wealth of the band with the other members and especially Ron Ryan, but the music lives on and ' Glad All Over' is truly a magnificent piece of vinyl.

    1. Ian, ditto to everything you said! As Ron Ryan has observed in his interviews with me in the summer of 2021, Mike Smith was a seriously talented singer, songwriter, producer. Perhaps the most under-appreciated rock singer of that era. And, from all accounts, a good human being as well.

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