Peter Clarke

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While "ranch" is most often a choice in the matter of salad dressings, there was a short period in the late '90s when it represented the pick of new country rock bands, as in the Ranch. This group was…
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While "ranch" is most often a choice in the matter of salad dressings, there was a short period in the late '90s when it represented the pick of new country rock bands, as in the Ranch. This group was fronted by Keith Urban, an Australian performer who was impassioned enough about the Nashville sound to move there. Peter Clarke was the home boy drummer who followed Urban over from down under, the third member of the group being a bassist from West Virginia named Jerry Flowers. For a time anyway -- at least until he went back to Australia -- Clarke brought a wild, thrashing passion to drumming that does not tend to be in large supply in the ultra-restrained, commercially nervous Nashville scene.

Clarke began playing drums as a child, and professionally from the age of 20. After staying in one group for nearly a decade he met Urban when a cheap promoter stacked the members of several bands that were touring together in the same hotel room. The decision to start a new group with Urban was a good one, the pair doing just about as well as is possible on the Australian country music scene. As small as the continent itself is vast, a hit record on Australian terms indicates the sale of only 70,000 copies. Clarke enjoyed several of these with his new collaborator, who also picked up a series of national music industry awards along the way.

They moved to Nashville in 1997 and began tending to the new music of the Ranch, attracting renown with hell-raising live shows. Garth Brooks, no minor power broker he, sniffed out the band and managed a record deal -- but despite fine reviews, the group and its debut album fell by the wayside. Subsequent developments for Urban have been good, indicating that it might have been a mistake for someone with his surname to be hanging out with the Ranch. But while Urban picks on Dixie Chicks sessions and the like, his drumming partner headed home, to drum at roadhouses within spitting distance of flattened kangaroo carcasses. According to Urban, Clarke "...is doing great."