Dave Clark

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b. 6 March 1909, Jackson, Tennessee, USA, d. 22 July 1995, Madison, Mississippi, USA. Although not a star of America’s R&B period, Clark’s work on promotion, spanning 50 years, was central to the music’s…
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Artist Biography by

b. 6 March 1909, Jackson, Tennessee, USA, d. 22 July 1995, Madison, Mississippi, USA. Although not a star of America’s R&B period, Clark’s work on promotion, spanning 50 years, was central to the music’s development. Growing up in Chicago, he graduated from Lane College in Jackson in 1934, then the Juilliard School of Music in New York five years later. During this period he had already started writing his own compositions, and ‘plugged’ these for sale to local bands. His first success in this capacity was with Jimmy Lunceford’s recording of ‘St. Paul’s Walking Through Heaven With You’ in 1938. He had already established his name in the Chicago music community by starting a jazz column for Down Beat magazine in 1934. Having worked in promotion for several small Chicago labels before the war, after its end he began a contract with Aristocrat Records and its successor, Chess Records. He then joined Star Maid and Ronel Records in 1955. However, much of the time he operated on a piece-work basis, simultaneously pushing records for several companies in a manner that anticipated the later trend for freelance promotion and plugging. By 1954 he had joined Duke/Peacock Records in Houston with whom he would later work exclusively. Playing a large hand in the establishment of such artists as Bobby Bland, Junior Parker and O.V. Wright, Clark stayed with Duke until the early 70s. In this period he also worked as a songwriter, co-writing ‘Why I Sing The Blues’ (1969) and ‘Chains And Things (1970) with B.B. King. He moved to Stax Records in 1971 for five years, working with Little Milton and the Staple Singers. TK Records was his next stop, an association that included promoting such artists as KC And The Sunshine Band and Betty Wright. By now Clark had built up strong loyalties within the music community, and when he moved to Malaco Records in 1980 he was able to attract artists including Z.Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Bland and Denise LaSalle. While in his 70s, he scored a major success by pushing Z.Z. Hill’s blues back to the black radio community, with his album Down Home (1982) becoming one of the decade’s biggest blues successes. In the 90s Dave Clark’s health failed, and he was confined to a nursing home until his death in 1995.