While no one will ever beat Ringo Starr's reputation as a rock drummer from Liverpool, Pete Clarke has hardly done badly for himself in a career that has involved much of the best talent from this town once the Fab Four are pushed out of the way. Many groups tried to do just that once word got around that there was a market for this sort of thing. In 1963, Clarke was drumming for the Escorts, considered one of Liverpool's most solid bands. Public relations handouts from the time brag that the Escorts were "voted the ninth most popular group in Liverpool by readers of the Merseybeat magazine," a statistic reported with such enthusiasm as to suggest extremely strong competition in the combo department.
Coming out of the Escorts, the drummer's reputation as a professional was solidly established.
The undervalued Liverpool Scene -- the group, not the town's happenings -- called him at the last minute when the band's drummer of some years yanked the exit bell. Bandmember Andy Roberts recalled in an interview that "the rehearsal for the Southampton gig (1969) consisted of me telling him in the van how the numbers went!" And the result? First time out, Clarke apparently played the material better than the group's regular drummer. He was involved in the late '60s with a folk-rock group called Trees, perhaps to honor what gets cut down in order to build acoustic guitars. Trees' keyboardist Toby Boshell moved over to the Kiki Dee band with Clarke, playing on a solidly impoverished effort to sprinkle gold dust on the energetic songstress' career.
Clarke's tenure with the Merseybeats spans this entire period, as he was with the group for several years beginning in 1962, then rejoined a revised version in 1970. This was yet another Liverpool combo directly capitalizing on the so-called "Mersey sound," which at least early in the game could have referred to listeners' parents begging for record players to be turned down. Jackie Lomax was another bandleader who used Clarke, yet perhaps his most notable affiliation was with Badfinger beginning in 1979. The Lomax track "Going Back to Liverpool" is an interesting bit of music about musicians, featuring the leader and Clarke along with Liverpool dude George Harrison. Inexplicably, this charming track didn't make the cut when the Lomax album entitled Is This What You Want? was originally released, but was restored to the 1991 CD version.