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Dave Clark Five Lead Singer Mike Smith


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Dave Clark Five Lead Singer Mike Smith

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Mike Smith (rear right) sang lead on such songs as

'Bits and Pieces' and 'Glad All Over'

LONDON, England -- Mike Smith, the lead singer, keyboardist and face of the Dave Clark Five, died of pneumonia on Thursday, February 28, less than two weeks before the band is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Smith died at a hospital outside of London. He was 64.

Smith was admitted to the intensive care unit of Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the morning of Wednesday, February 27, with a chest infection stemming from complications of a 2003 spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed below the ribcage with limited use of his upper body, his New York agent, Margo Lewis, said in a statement.

Lewis said he was injured when he fell from a fence at his home in Spain in September of 2003. Smith had been in the hospital since the accident, and was just released last December when he moved into a specially prepared home near the hospital with his wife, Arlene (nicknamed Charlie).

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Dave Clark Five Singer Mike Smith and his

wife, Arlene (whose nickname is Charlie)

"These last five years were extremely difficult for Mike. I am incredibly saddened to lose him, his energy and his humor, but I am comforted by the fact that he had the chance to spend his final months and days at home with his loving wife Charlie," Lewis said.

Smith wrote songs as well as singing and playing keyboards for the Dave Clark Five, one of many British rock acts whose music swept across the United States in the 1960s during the so-called British Invasion. The Beatles are the best remembered, of course, but the Dave Clark Five had their own share of success.

At the time, the Dave Clark Five posed the strongest threat, commercially and critically, to The Beatles' pre-eminence. The Dave Clark Five claimed a string of U.S. hits, including "Because," "Glad All Over," "Any Way You Want It" and "I Like It Like That." By 1966, the band had made 12 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," then a record for any British group.

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The Dave Clark Five

The group was founded by Clark, who played drums, in 1958. Smith was not an original member. He joined in 1961 as keyboardist, lead singer and the band's most recognizable face. The "Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll" called Smith "a truly outstanding soul shouter."

Years later, Smith noted that there was a certain irony in the British Invasion. While groups from England were bringing new sounds to America, many of the musicians in those groups were soaking up American blues and pop recordings.

"I used to buy import records and discovered the Contours, Isley Brothers, Lightnin' Hopkins. . . . America wasn't listening to that, but in England we thought they were brilliant," Smith told The Record newspaper of Bergen County, New Jersey, in a 2003 interview.

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The Dave Clark Five on the 'Ed Sullivan Show'

The group's antics were captured in John Boorman's 1965 documentary, "Catch Us If You Can," which followed Smith and his band mates through the English city of Bristol. While the group -- which broke up in 1970 -- was named after him, Dave Clark himself was the drummer.

The group is going to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, a ceremony Lewis said Smith was trying to attend. "He was extremely excited and honored to have been inducted," Lewis explained. "And I am glad that he will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, because he was in so many ways."

"We're very unhappy about the whole situation -- it's sad," Joel Peresman, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President said. He added, "The ceremony will go ahead as planned, but there will be a little extra significance this year."

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Dave Clark Five Singer Mike Smith

Smith was born in London on December 12, 1943. He began studying classical music at age 5 and was admitted to Trinity Music College in London at 13. He was also a fan of the great jazz artists Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. When he joined the Dave Clark Five, he was the only member of the group to have had classical music training.

After the demise of the band in the early 1970s, Clark and Smith continued to release singles as Dave Clark & Friends until 1973. Smith later worked with Mike D'Abo, onetime vocalist for Manfred Mann. He also produced records for Shirley Bassey and European opera performer Michael Ball.

In addition, he sang on the original recording of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "Evita." Smith made a good living writing commercials for companies including American Airlines, British Airways, Volvo and McDonald's. In 2003, he returned to performing in the United States with Mike Smith's Rock Engine.

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Dave Clark Five Singer Mike Smith, his wife, Charlie and Peter Noone,

frontman for the British group, Herman's Hermits

But later that year, tragedy hit his life. His son was killed in a diving accident, and Smith severely injured his spinal cord after falling while attempting to scale a fence at his home on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Peter Noone, of Herman's Hermits, helped defray his high medical bills through donations and fundraisers.

Many of his peers, including Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, came to Smith's aid with similar charity. David Letterman's "Late Show" bandleader Paul Shaffer helped organize a benefit concert in New York in August 2005 that featured many of Smith's fellow British Invasion stars, including the Zombies and Peter & Gordon.

Smith is survived by his wife, Arlene (aka Charlie). His family will release a DVD of the New York Benefit Concert which will be scheduled for release at a later date.

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