Sunday, March 2, 2008

The man who 'discovered' the Dave Clark Five

Over the weekend we learned of the death of Mike Smith, the lead singer of the Dave Clark Five who passed away just 12 days before the group was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The DC5 was popular in the UK but still unknown in the US in 1964. The Beatles first showed up on US TV in December of 1963 on the Jack Parr show on NBC by film from London but with the country still reeling from the death of President Kennedy it didn't make an impression. (except that Ed Sullivan saw it and decided to book them live 2 months later )

Watching The Beatles explode in America was a Boston disc jockey at WBZ by the name of Bruce Bradley.

Bradley recalled to The Harvard Crimson in 1966 that WBZ's music commitee that he was on had thrown a Beatles record into the trash 5 months before they exploded.

Bradley recalls with a slightly pained laugh that the music committee "threw 'She Loves You' in the waste basket" in June, 1963 -- missing the chance to get on the Beatles' bandwagon five months before they revolutionized rock 'n' roll in America.

He would not make the same mistake again. Bradley came across a couple of singles by the Dave Clark Five and started playing them heavily on his popular show at night. Bradley was not only popular in Boston but also across most of the eastern United States as WBZ reached into 38 states and most of Eastern Canada. WBZ was unique in those days where the DJ's had major imput into what was played which was was almost unheard of after the Payola scandals a few years before. With WBZ aboard the other major stations in North America such as WABC, WLS, WKBW, CKLW and others started playing the DC5 as well.

WBZ was a special radio station back in the 60's. While it played Top 40 it treated their young audience with respect. After dinner they had a talk show hosted by Bob Kennedy that made you think and learn. Kennedy would go on to Chicago and become extreme popular before cancer claimed him in the mid 1970's. Overnight you had Dick Summer who introduced millions to music they could not hear anywhere else.

Nobody seems to know what happened to Bruce Bradley. he later became a talk show host in St Louis but was last hear about 10 years ago.

BZ would soon fade as a Top 40 station as WRKO came along in 1967 with a tighter format and the kids all flocked to it. However WBZ had a signal that they could play polka music for 24 hours and still be highly rated. Today they are news by day and talk at night and can still be heard in most places east of the Mississippi River.

To millions who have never been to Boston the station represents us. They have never failed the city in that calling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Bradley recalls with a slightly pained laugh that the music committee "threw 'She Loves You' in the waste basket" in June, 1963..."

That would be quite a feat, considering the Beatles didn't record "She Loves You" until July 1, 1963, the month following the alleged committee meeting.