The Dave Clark Five in their mid-'60s prime

Rick Huxley of the Dave Clark Five has died of emphysema at age 72. Huxley was the first member of the band’s classic ’60s lineup to join with drummer and band founder Dave Clark. The London-based DC5 was a strong competitor to the Liverpool-raised Beatles during the mid-’60s, with the latter’s driving, loud, hard-rocking London sound having immense appeal in both Britain and the United States.

Two members of the band are still alive: Clark and guitarist Lenny Davidson. Smith, one of the most underrated rock singers of all time, died just two weeks before the band’s long, long overdue induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008

The band was the second big British Invasion group, after the Beatles of course, and had several top ten chart hits in the United States between 1964 and 1967. They even appeared in a couple of movies, though not as the stars they way the Beatles did in their films.

The contrast with the Beatles is interesting. The DC5 sound and lyrics represented a more sanguine, less sophisticated brand of pop/rock music than the far-more critically celebrated Beatles. The DC5 tended toward greater simplicity and directness in both their music and lyrics than the Beatles. That made the DC5 more engaging and likable for people inclined toward those attitudes (of which I am one), while imposing limitations that would cause the band’s rapid decline in popularity as pop/rock music became increasingly sophisticated after the 1967 release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album and other such ambitious projects.

Lead singer Mike Smith had a strong, clear, very masculine voice that could convey ballads as well as it could belt out rockers. The strong rhythm section of Clark and Huxley drove the band’s best songs with a vivid brashness easily heard even on tinny portable AM radios.

The DC5’s first hit, “Glad All Over,” was a proto-hard-rock classic, with its stage-thumping pause right before the song title words are sung. “Bits and Pieces,” “Can’t You See That She’s Mine,” and “Any Way You Want It”  are classic rockers from that period as well. The band also excelled at ballads, notably “Because,” “Come Home,” and “Everybody Knows (I Still Love You).”

Regardless of whether the song was a rocker or a ballad, the Dave Clark Five represented the exuberant, optimistic side of the 1960s, before the cultural crash came in the form of the Generation Gap, antiwar conflicts, hippie movement, Sexual Revolution, urban riots and rising crime rates, and the like. The Beatles rode that wave and addressed it in their  creative works, while the DC5 largely continued doing what they did well.

The band soldiered on until 1970, and then gracefully retired. Clark remained in the entertainment industry, with some success, even releasing some recordings under the name The Dave Clark Five & Friends until 1972, for which Smith performed vocals quite well.

Since everyone else is going to embed videos of “Glad All Over” (smile), I’ll give you a clip of the equally exuberant “Any Way You Want It” instead (please note that the article continues below the video):

The DC5 website is a great resource, where you can listen to the band’s music for free. Little of their music is readily available on CD except in used copies; I recommend The History of the Dave Clark Five as an excellent introduction to the band. Personally, I have almost every song they ever released.

RIP, Rick Huxley. Long live the Dave Clark Five.

(h/t Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator.)