Friday, February 29, 2008

Flashback to the 60s

In 1964, you were either a Beatles fan or a Dave Clark Five fan. By fan, I mean fanatic, and that pretty well describes teenagers anyway. I don't even own a DC5 single, let alone album.

For anyone lacking knowledge of that terminology, they were round flat discs with a continuous groove. A single was about 7" across, had one song on each side, and a hole about silver dollar (I'm not getting into that) sized in the middle which required an adapter to play on a turn-table (a device on which you placed the disc so it could spin and permit a needle to drag in the groove at a particular speed--45 rpm for a single or 33 1/3 rpm for an album--which created vibrations which resulted in sound. An album was 12" across, had a 1/4" hole that fit on the turn-table spindle, and contained approximately 6 songs or tracks on a side for about 40-45 minutes of total entertainment for the princely sum of $3.00. For mono. Stereo cost more. This technology was replaced by cds which are soon to be replaced by electronic distribution and I-Pod type devices. Later on, there may be direct jacking into the brain if Bill Gibson is right. (I of course, can hear "Glad All Over" in my brain right now, thank you very much. It's called "memory.")

Since I was a die-hard Beatles fan, the Dave Clark Five don't enter my thoughts much. KRTH will sometimes play a song--I heard one during the "First Hits Weekend" last Saturday, in fact. I was discussing them not long ago with my friend Andy Zax, who explained to me that Dave Clark has not permitted his catalog to be released. Somehow, he managed to keep control of the rights. To which I say, good for him but bad for him too.

Hence, I was left with a chill this morning when the news reported the death of Mike Smith, the lead singer and cute guy on keyboards for the DC 5, two weeks shy of the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The news report made it sound like he died of pneumonia because of a car accident four years ago, which didn't sound quite right or complete. It wasn't. He had a spinal injury because of a fall four years ago and had been paralyzed below the rib-cage since. Although there had been benefits to raise money for his medical expenses, the whole thing had run under my radar while Sir Paul's marital problems are front page news.

I'm a big fan of hits compilations, so I hope that Dave Clark decides to let someone distribute their recordings. I would definitely spring for such a release. Many of them were co-written by Mike Smith. It's been a long time since the fan-only rivalry between the Beatles and the DC5 was the most important conflict in my life. Rest in peace, Michael George Smith.

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