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Mike Smith 2/2008

Mike SmithFebruary 28, 2008- Michael George ‘Mike’ Smith (the Dave Clark Five) was born on December 6, 1943 in in Edmonton, North London. His parents found he had a natural ability as a pianist that surfaced as early as age five. Smith started lessons in classical piano, and at age 13 passed the entrance exams at Trinity Music College in London.

He met Dave Clark first when they were both members on the same football team for the St. George Boys Club. At age 17, Dave asked him to join his band; his debut recording with the band was “I Knew It All the Time”/”That’s What I Said” in 1963. The band had 19 UK Top 40 hits, including ‘Bits and Pieces‘ and the No.1 single ‘Glad All Over’. They had US hits with ‘Because’, ‘I Like it Like That’ and ‘Glad All Over’, and set a record among British acts after appearing on the Ed Sullivan show 13 times.

The band was a leading unit in the British Invasion of the United States, and were the Beatles’ main British rivals before the emergence of the Rolling Stones.

Due to his role as lead singer, Smith was considered the other star of the band, less visible by name than drummer/founder Dave Clark but still at the centre of the group’s sound as lead singer and keyboard player. Smith’s singing showed the strong influence of Elvis Presley during the period of “The Girl of My Best Friend,” “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame,” and “Little Sister.” Due to his lead singing, Mike was very popular around the world on DC5 concert tours, especially in the Philippines. Filipinos loved his rendition of hits Because and Hurting Inside.

Smith’s rich and raspy baritone voice and keyboards were clearly evident in the band’s sound over seven years: during their two major years of success in 1964-1965 and continuing five years after the British Invasion died down in America, until the group disbanded in 1970.

Mike co-wrote the majority of their material with Dave, sold more than 100 million records, played to sold out 5 consecutive world tours and 6 in the U.S. including 12 consecutive shows at Carnegie Hall, and were immortalised in the 1965 feature film “Catch Us If You Can”. After they disbanded in 1970, Mike continued for a while with Dave before striking out on his own..

In 1976 he recorded with former Manfred Mann’s Michael d’Abo, after which he became record producer for such artists as Shirley Bassey and Michael Ball, for whom he recorded 4 gold albums. He also worked as a writer and singer of advertising jingles; his clients ranged from British Airways to McDonald’s to Volvo and sang on the original recording of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita.

In the late 90’s he moved to Spain and did many charity gigs with four musicians who shared his dedication to playing for fun above all else: lead guitarist Doug Lean; bassist Curt Sandell; drummer Paul Skelton; and saxophone player Frank Mead.

After rehearsing at each other’s houses on the Costa del Sol, the group made their concert debut in August, 2002 when they played a benefit for a charity of abused children and raised $100,000. Beginning in March 2003, Mike Smith’s Rock Engine occasional tours generated very enthusiastic responses from audiences, despite being prevented from mentioning the Dave Clark Five in his advertising, Smith appeared once again to be emerging as a popular star in his own right.

Tragically on September 13, 2003, nearing his 60th birthday, Smith was injured in an accident in his home in Spain, which caused severe injury to his spinal cord. He tried to climb a 7 ft gate after locking himself out of his villa, fell heavily and landed on his head. He cracked his spine in three places and was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in his right arm, with very little movement in his left arm.

Following four years of treatment, Smith was released from hospital on his 64th birthday, 6 December 2007. On 19 December 2007, Bruce Springsteen, a longtime friend and fan, dedicated “Born to Run” to Smith and his wife, Charlie, who were attending his concert at the O2 in London.

The man with the magnificent ”growl”, tragically died on 28 February, 2008, just 11 days before he was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as singer and keyboardist of The Dave Clark Five. His death at age 64 came as complications of the accident five years earlier in 2003.

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