A Rockapaedia Obituary
Bands: The Dave Clark Five
Mike Smith died aged sixty-four on 28th February 2008 of pneumonia at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire,United Kingdom, just eleven days before he was due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Dave Clark Five. Following his death, it was discovered that he left a surprisingly modest estate, worth only sixty-six thousands of pounds..
Mike Smith was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, United Kingdom, an only child of George and Maud Smith. His parents found he had a natural ability as a pianist that surfaced as early as age five. Mike Smith started lessons in classical piano, and at age thirteen passed the entrance exams at Trinity Music College in London.
Mike Smith first met Dave Clark when they were both members on the same football team for the St. George Boys Club. By his mid-teens, Mike Smith had developed a strong vocal delivery, while idolising Little Richard, among other American rock & roll stars. At age seventeen, while working for a finance company, Mike Smith was invited by Dave Clark to join his band, which was busy rebuilding itself around the core of Clark and rhythm guitarist, later bassist, Rick Huxley, after having recently lost its lead singer.
With Mike Smith on vocals, piano or organ the new Dave Clark Five was completed with the additions of saxophonist Denis Payton and lead guitarist Lenny Davidson, who was auditioned on Mike Smith's recommendation.
Mike Smith made his recording debut, at age eighteen, with the single "I Knew It All the Time" b/w "That's What I Said" produced by Pye Records in June 1962 and credited to the unknown band The Dave Clark Five featuring Mike Mike Smith. Performed in a style midway between early British beat and the bolder 1960s sounds that were developing, it was a powerful record to be issued while the Beatles were still developing their first recording deal. Due to his role as lead singer, Mike Smith was considered the other star of the band, less visible by name than drummer/founder Clark but still at the centre of the group's sound as lead singer and keyboard player. Mike 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 Dave Clark Five concert tours, especially in the Philippines.
Mike 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 Smith continued working with Dave Clark until 1973, mainly to help the drummer/bandleader fulfill contractual commitments, as "Dave Clark & Friends." Mike Smith & Clark released cover versions of popular hits such as "Rub It In," "Sweet City Woman," and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)."
In 1976, Mike recorded an album with former Manfred Mann singer Michael d'Abo.
Most of Mike Smith's work in the 1970s and 1980s, however, was as a producer and songwriter, and Mike Smith was successful working on commercials (commercial ads), authoring jingles for many products.
Mike Smith returned to performing in the late 1990s, and discovered he still had many fans on the oldies circuit. Having moved to Spain, Mike Smith had met 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 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, Mike Smith appeared to be emerging as a popular star in his own right.
Mike Mike Smith was divorced from his first wife Jill , a former horse trainer who became a celebrity hairdresser. They had one son, James. Mike lived with his longtime partner, Jane Geerts, for 18 years between 1980 and 1998.
In October 2001 Mike married "Charlie" (real name: Arlene Gorek), with whom he had re-established contact in 1999, having dated 35 years earlier.
On 1st June 2003, James, then a 24-year-old professional diver, died in a diving accident in the Red Sea. James never surfaced after making the dive. Mike Smith established a memorial to his son at Egypt's Blue Hole, a popular diving location, with a plaque reading, "Don’t let fear stand in the way of your dreams."
Three months later, on 13th September 2003, nearing his 60th birthday, Mike Smith was injured in an accident in his home in Spain which severely damaged 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. His spine fractured in three places leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in his right arm, with very little movement in his left arm. Following four years of treatment, Mike 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 Mike Smith and his wife, Charlie, who were attending his concert at the O2 in London.
Many of the seventeen Top-40 U.S. hits for the Dave Clark Five were written by Mike Smith and Dave Clark, including "Glad All Over", "Bits and Pieces", "Can’t You See That’s She Mine", "Come Home", "Try Too Hard", and "Please Tell Me Why". The Dave Clark Five also had the hits "Do You Love Me" , "Because" , "Reelin’ and Rockin'" , "Catch Us If You Can", by Clark & Lenny Davidson), "I Like It Like That", "You Got What It Takes" and "Any Way You Want It" . , previously listed herein as composed by Mike Smith and Clark, was actually written and recorded by Bobby Day. . Mike Mike Smith and Clark also co-wrote and performed "Having A Wild Weekend" from the movie Catch Us If You Can, renamed Having a Wild Weekend for its U.S.premiere. They sold more than 100 million records, sold out five consecutive world tours and ix in the U.S. including 12 consecutive shows at Carnegie Hall, and made a record-setting 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show (New York City).
When the Dave Clark Five disbanded, Mike Smith first collaborated with singer Mike D’Abo, former lead singer of Manfred Mann. They made one self-titled album, which has recently been reissued by Sony in Japan. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice recruited Mike Smith to sing on the recording of their Evita before it ever hit the stage, earning him another gold record. Mike Smith also produced recordings for Shirley Bassey and four gold albums for one of Europe’s top male vocalists, Michael Ball.
Mike Smith can be heard in the Applebee’s Restaurant commercial that uses "I Like It Like That" and in Target’s campaign, which uses "Bits and Pieces" : one of dozens of commercials he has made over the years, employing his distinctive "Mike Smith sound."