“Maybe I shouldn’t have quit, but you couldn’t be a teenager all your life”

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Clark’s friendship with Mercury and the fact that he never married has led to speculation about his sexuality, which I ask. “My sexuality is… me. I am me”, is all he will say. Loud on record, almost silent on his personal life. We move on.

Although he’s about to enter his ninth decade, Clark is keeping an ear out. He thinks Ed Sheeran is one of the “most exciting talents” around. “He reminds me of John Lennon. John might not have a brilliant voice but he had that magic in his voice that, like Freddie, gave you goosebumps. I think Ed’s writing is great. You have to be very talented to go and play Wembley with yourself, without a band or anything,” he says.

Sheeran defines the art of what’s possible if you put your mind to it, Clark argues. “He started out playing on the streets. It’s possible [to make it]. There is a great example. You don’t need to have a big production. There is no magic format.

And what advice would this former rock ‘n’ roll statesman have for young musicians today? “It’s hard because the only way to make money [today] is to do live concerts. We’ve been spoiled with the DC5, the Beatles, the Stones – not only have we packed 40,000 theaters a night, but we’ve sold millions of records. But if you believe you can do it, stick to your beliefs. I go back to what my dad once told me, “Don’t go through life saying, ‘If only.’ Talented people will always win,” he says.

There is also, he concedes, a good deal of luck. If Sullivan hadn’t been watching airport television that night, then the DC5 might never have been in the United States. Had Sullivan taken a different flight, Clark’s stunt career could have encompassed dozens of additional movies. “It’s being in the right place at the right time. It’s luck.

Clark wants his music to be remembered for its optimism and enjoyment. The joy that Hanks talked about. “There was no heavy messaging or anything,” Clark explains. Maybe now, with this box set, his gems of heart-pounding, heart-pounding, sing-along proto-glam pop will get a little more of the recognition they so clearly deserve. Did Clark ever, I wonder, want to perform again? Didn’t he watch McCartney – almost an exact contemporary – headline Glastonbury this year and thought, “I would love to do a little bit of that?

“No. He was brilliant at Glastonbury. He did three hours and he was brilliant,” he pauses. “No…I don’t know. Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have stopped , but you couldn’t be a teenager all your life. And I wanted to be Dave Clark the person again. There were other things I wanted to do.


All The Hits – The 7” Collection by The Dave Clark Five is out October 28 on BMG

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