Mick Clarke - In Depth Bio
1950 - 1955
Born 12 July 1950 - Nelson Hospital, Merton Park, Surrey. (Near Wimbledon). Parents Fred and Vie Clarke, brothers Brian and Derek. Lives over the family confectioners shop, Dundonald Road Wimbledon.
Given a wind up gramophone and a pile of 78s.. the Laughing Policeman - A Four Legged Friend - The Runaway Train.. never been the same since.
1956 - 1961
Moves to 5 Circle Gardens, Merton Park.. semi detached suburbia. Family gets new electric record player - Mum buys show tune albums - My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, which Mick laps up and learns lyrics by heart. Elder brother Derek brings home records by Lonnie Donnegan, Elvis Presley.. the B sides are often blues tunes. Mick likes it.
1961 - 1963
Passes 11 Plus and goes to Rutlish Grammar School, just as Prime Minister to be John Major is leaving. Arrives in top stream and rapidly sinks to the bottom - hates the place. However, takes violin lessons and joins school orchestra, second violins (very poor player).
The 60s have arrived. Beatles, Stones, Searchers, Herman's Hermits, Animals, Yardbirds.. excitement.
1963 - 1965
Gets first guitar - Rosetti "Foreign" model f-hole archtop for 8 guineas. Forms "Stonewall Blues Band" with schoolfriends Pete, Nigel, Paul and John. Later buys second hand Watkins Rapier 22 from music teacher at school, (£10) and Watkin's Clubman 6 watt amp (15 guineas). New bass player Geb.. a few gigs at local youth clubs etc.
1965 - 1966
Leaves school with 2 O levels.. teachers glad to see back of Mick - feeling mutual. Attends "Old Rutlishians" Fair - the band is John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton.
Straight to first job - assistant engineer at Advision Studio, New Bond St, West End of London. Works on sessions with Vick Flick, Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page, Graham Bond and others, including a single release by Crispian St. Peter and the huge international hit "Winchester Cathedral". No good at job - sacked after one month.
1966 - 1968
Mum marches Mick up to the City of London and gets him a "proper job". Works for two years for "120 Services" Moorgate, administering stocks and shares for South African goldmines. (No, not PC at all). Incredibly boring, old fashioned place.. think a cross between Cat Steven's "Matthew and Son" and any Dickens book.
Meanwhile, moves through various bands and line-ups, including Cliff Charles Blues. Their three dates are Warwick University with Graham Bond, Middle Earth in London also with Bond and the Nags Head Blue Horizon Club, London, with Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.
Forms Killing Floor with Bill Thorndycraft. Rehearsals at home and South London pubs, and a trip to Germany to retrieve Bill's PA System. Bill and Mick recruit Stuart "Mac" McDonald who is sleeping in his van outside Clapham Common tube station, drummer Bazz Smith who Bill had met in Germany, and pianist Lou Martin.
First gig is Middle Earth, with Captain Beefheart. Band signs management deal with Pop Agent John Edward - more gigs including California Ballroom, Dunstable with Chicken Shack and later Jethro Tull, Pantiles in Bagshot with Alexis Korner, Blues Loft High Wycombe with Duster Bennett, jamming at the Pied Bull, Islington with Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke from Free.
Band records first album "Killing Floor" at Pye Studio, London. Released on Spark, subsidiary of Southern Music, and later on Sire in the USA, subsidiary of London Records. Chicago blues classics are turned into original songs by new lyrics written in toilet - album is flawed but exciting. Airplay on BBC Radio - Johnny Walker, John Peel, Alexis Korner.
Gigs include the Marquee Club, London, opening for The Nice, and later Yes, and many other club and concert dates including Hemel Hempstead Pavillion with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch!
Plays two three week tours of England with Freddie King, including dates with Howlin' Wolf and Otis Spann. Also long residencies in Europe at the PN Hithouse in Munich and The Hirschen, Zurich Switzerland.
1970 The British Blues Boom is declining, and failing to break through to the big time, Killing Floor changes line-ups and continues to tour, mainly in Europe.. Germany and Switzerland. Plays at the Hamburg Easter Festival with The Nice, Black Sabbath and a one-off concert (riot) in Berlin. Long summer residency in the South of France.
Records second album "Out of Uranus" for Larry Page's pop label "Penny Farthing". The single "Call for the Politicians" bubbles under the UK chart but does not break through. Band appears on BBC Radio One Club.
Appears on BBC2's Disco 2 .. forerunner of the Old Grey Whistle Test.. miming away to "Milkman" from "Out of Uranus".. Bazz on the plastic cymbals, Bill singing live. The band travels up to Liverpool and appears at the Cavern Club.. the original. As Mick walks in the first sound he hears is The Beatles "She Loves You". The place is redolent with Merseybeat memories.. and extremely hot! As Keith Richards is later to write: "the place was like a Turkish Bath!" The band plays Edinburgh University with Hawkwind - a great night until a power cut calls a halt to the evening. The band plays The Nags Head in Wollaston.. DJ is John Peel.
By October the work is slowing down and Mick is desperate to keep gigging. He takes a job with a funk band, "Funky Fever" which has a tour of American bases in Germany lined up. Unfortunately it means missing the only remaining Killing Floor gig, at the American University in London. The band plays it with a dep and it goes well.
Mick has a busy and interesting three weeks touring Germany in the snow. Particular memories include visiting the home of an African American serviceman.. settling in to the back seat of his Pontiac (or similar) and hearing "Shaft" for the first time in perfect stereo, slightly muffled by the dense furry interior of the car. Later Mick remembers a walk through the village.. "Bur Frankenstein" in the Rheinland.. thick snow and a perfect starry night. Another memory is of a gun being pulled and fired in the bar just before a gig.. Mick dives under a table and lives to play another day.
Mick continues to work with the band, which features singer Lenny Zakatek - later the voice of the Alan Parsons Project. They play a couple of residencies at Hatchetts Club in Mayfair, London. Memories include a birthday party for one of the South London mob families.. be careful who you speak to. Another night film star Debbie Reynolds arrives with family, (including a young Carrie Fisher). Mick and the band are invited to the table for champagne.. Debbie has had a drop or two and has eyes for the lead singer..
There are changes in Killing Floor, and ex Juicy Lucy singer Ray Owen takes over on vocals. He's a great singer and charismatic, but a little too convinced that he is the reincarnation of Jimmy Hendrix. The band continues to rehearse at their preferred rehearsal room .. the Rolling Stones' studio in South London.. one evening the doorbell is answered by a jovial Rod Stewart in full colourful stage gear.. "Come in lads!". The studio contains a good selection of American Sun amps, and numerous first drafts of the album design for "Sticky Fingers".. not for public consumption.
First date is the Marquee Club opening for JB Hutto! Good gig but memories are faded by huge quantities of hashish. Mick wishes he had paid more attention to Mr Hutto.. but he's sure it was great - at the time. Back a couple of weeks later for another opening spot - Lightning Slim. Ditto.. few memories. Later a college gig with Skid Row.. presumably a young Gary Moore.. no memories.
A gig at Corby Bowl.. three spotty youths sitting cross legged in the middle of the hall are pretty much the entire audience. Ray hits the stage resplendent in multi-coloured crushed velvet and Flying V guitar.. "First of all I just want to say.. You're All Beautiful." The three spotty youths are as confused as Mick is. A couple of gigs at the Cafe Des Artistes in Earls Court and a final date at Huntingdon College, and Killing Floor grinds to a halt, for the next thirty two years.
Mick often reflects that if the band had had the foresight to take itself over to America.. (with its Sire Records deal) it might have joined the ranks of Savoy Brown, Foghat and others, and found a whole new lease of life.
But it didn't.
Pianist Lou Martin has recently been playing some casual gigs with 60s pop star Cliff Bennett. He also records a new single with Cliff - Mick attends the session. Cliff has also had a successful rock band, Toefat, and is thinking of reforming it. Mick, Lou, Tony Fernandez and Mick Hawksworth become the new version of Toefat.
The band start rehearsing, and first date is at Alex Disco in Salisbury. However, Lou Martin leaves to join the Rory Gallagher Band, and is replaced by Lynton Naiff. More dates follow, and a session is recorded for Alan Freeman's show on BBC Radio. Also some recording at Trident Studio for a possible album. The previously recorded single "Brand New Band" is set for release, and music business stalwart Dave (son of Norrie) Paramour is behind it.
Meanwhile Mick also plays some sessions for a band being formed by a friend from South London, Dave Reid. Dave has a deal with "Worldwide Promotions" who handle Black Sabbath and Yes, and there is much talk of American tours etc. Sessions take place at Island Studios in London, and Richard Branson's "The Manor" out in the wilds of Oxfordshire.. a strange scene of isolated excess. Mick is picked up at the station in a Bentley and driven through the frosty countryside to the Manor, where the band and staff are all staying. The session is interrupted around 10 pm for a full 3 course dinner in the Baronial Hall before returning to continue recording through the night. Vast quantities of drugs and alcohol are consumed - not the most conducive to a good recording.
In the same week Toefat begins a tour of England and Scotland with the Pretty Things, and Mick takes the train from Oxfordshire to rejoin the tour in Durham. The bands have a good tour but one night towards the end, Mick's Marshall 100 amp is stolen. The amp is later returned, and Mick collects it from the baggage carousel at Heathrow.
the single "Brand New Band" is released and gets good airplay on radio.. again it is "bubbling under". Indeed Mick hears Radio star Jimmy Young announce that it looks like "another hit for Cliff Bennett", but sadly dreams of Top of the Pops, fame and fortune, fade away as the record fails to chart.
The band falls apart rapidly. However, the Dave Reid Band is still rehearsing on its retainer, and is sent away by Worldwide Promotions to "Get it together in the country".. a popular pursuit of bands at the time, from Blind Faith downwards. The band goes to Pinch Cottage, Pembrokeshire for two weeks. Pinch Cottage is right on the beach, and although it is March, the Gulf Stream does not disappoint. Mick returns to London with a sun tan, after an enjoyable beach holiday, with a little rehearsing.
Mick and new drummer Alan Platt are enjoying rocking out together, although it is slightly at odds with the more traditionally British folk / rock / prog approach of the rest of the of the band. Eventually a representative from Worldwide Promotions decides to visit the band and attend a rehearsal. Mick and Alan get the sack.
Mick plays a couple of sessions with another talented singer songwriter, John Bryant, who has an album deal with Polydor. Somehow he ends up going with the band to Bristol, for a cameo in an exciting new series being filmed called "Go-Girls".. it's going to be a big thing on the tele. The band mimes to a track in a mock-up of a disco while the trendy audience dance. However, the plan is for all the equipment to blow up, for some reason, including Mick's guitar! (Not his own). He is told "when we count down to zero, make sure your hand is up, not down". Mick dutifully follows instructions and when his guitar actually explodes he retains his right hand for future use.
It's all very exciting but the following day a rumour runs around that the company backing the enterprise has gone bust, and the series, after several weeks of filming, is about to grind to a halt. Sure enough it does! Numerous technicians, actors and musicians return to London unsure of their futures (or if they're going to get paid). To his credit John Bryant pays Mick in full, and is later, we believe, reinbursed.
So Mick is out of a job, but not for long. A Melody Maker advert brings a response from a band called Daddy Longlegs.
Daddy Longlegs was originally a band of American exiles who had a few album releases on major labels, including Vertigo. They did OK and had a hit single in Holland with an ode to dope smoking "Getting High Again". Only the drummer remains, one Cliff Carrison, and he lives down in Burwash, Kent, and is planning a new version of the band. It takes a while, but after some enjoyable rehearsal weekends in the Kent countryside the band finally starts gigging, up at Quaintways club in Chester. The music is an odd mix of blues, rock'n'roll and soul, but seems to be commercial, and goes well with audiences, mainly thanks to the charismatic front man, Glaswegian Davey Agnew.
The band tours all over England and Wales in their trusty Transit, always driven by Cliff. To save money they never book hotels but ask around at the gig for somewhere to crash, leading to interesting and entertaining after gig parties. Once again a huge quantity of hashish is consumed, washed down, in Mick's case, by a fair quantity of vodka.
In time, Mick's friend Stuart McDonald takes over on bass, and in August the band takes a trip to Holland for a short tour. The Dutch audiences are basically stoned out of their brains. A typical gig features an armchair or two at the front of the stage for people to doze in.. it's a bit strange for Mick who was brought up on excited Killing Floor audiences "raving" energetically. Still the tour is fun, and Daddy Longlegs return later for two further Dutch tours, playing at the famous Paradiso Club in Amsterdam amongst other venues.
In September the band ventures to Scandinavia, a long drive up to Copenhagen, playing to a small audience of.. children, in a youth club. Onwards to Sweden where the band arrives at Lund University and plays to a small audience of.. drunks. Onwards to Kalmar on the Baltic Coast, where the band plays at Mr Macs Club.. a series of very small rooms. However it is all very enjoyable, and Mick meets some great people.. as well as visiting a Viking tomb on the island of Oorland, and a fabulous castle..(very stoned).
On the way home the band pauses in Copenhagen to rest up. Mick is cold and tired and desperate for a hotel, but, as we've established, Daddy Longlegs don't do hotels. Cliff knows a place called Christiania.. it's a hippy commune. "If we play a gig they'll put us up". Mick groans inwardly. But the gig is arranged, in the cafe. And then a small miracle happens.. a beer, a joint and plate of pie and chips, and before long the band is happily playing to the cafe audience. Mick remembers at one point hearing extra musical instruments and looks up to see the incongruous site of Mac sat on a chair thumping on his bass, surrounded by an angelic choir of hippies playing flutes and tambourines. Strange days.
the band continues to gig steadily into the new year, rehearsing occasionally at Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell's place in Kent, and jamming with Mitch at the local village hall. Mick is given an amp case for his Marshall 100, with J. Hendrix stencilled on the side. When he sells the amp some years later Mick gives the case away with the amp.. no room for storage.
Mick continues to gig with Daddy Longlegs through to July 1974 before the band finally runs out of steam. A busy and interesting year of work. Mick needs employment, and a country and western band called Wildwood Flower need a guitarist. The band plays East End pubs and social clubs, and Mick has to wear a red shirt and a bootlace tie with a little six gun on it. That's OK. Mick learns the country repertoire but plays it in his own way, earning the name "Mr. Blue" from the bemused bandleader. Songs like "Today I started loving you again" lend themselves to a bluesy feel, "Fulsom Prison" is well.. blues. The job lasts about six months. Mick takes the tube up to the gigs while the band looks after his gear, but when Mick is late for a couple of gigs it's too much, and Mick is, rightfully, let go. However, Mick has recently started jamming at a pub in South London called the Two Brewers, with one Stevie Smith.
The Brewers is a regular Wednesday night jam scene, with friends such Mick Hawksworth and Steve Waller being regulars. Mick's memory is that he first jams with Stevie Smith on the standard "Going Down" and there's an immediate chemistry. Mick and Steve continue to jam through the year with different line-ups at various South London pubs.
As the year begins Mick is basically skint, with occasional Wildwood Flower gigs, jams and casual day jobs. However he soon finds a gig with a band called Panache.. basically a prog band, which is rehearsing with the aim of getting a record deal. Again Mick gets a small retainer, supplied by a couple of Arthur Daley types who turn up occasionally in their camel hair coats to check out the band. The band gigs around with mixed results.. sometimes OK, sometimes not so good.. actually booed at college gig in Huntingdon. The material and presentation is a little leaden .. not conducive to a good audience reaction. Later the band is joined by Mick's friend Mac, once again, on bass, and ex Blue Cheer drummer Paul Whaley, which livens it up a bit.
As Panache peters out, Mick finds another rehearsal band.. Red. They have a promising song for a hit single, but when they finally get to the big recording session at Bronze Studio, the singer is drunk and the whole thing falls apart. Meanwhile Mick and Stevie Smith are gradually turning their jam band into something more solid.. SALT. With Mac and Tony Fernandez (later Rick Wakeman's drummer) they record a couple of Mick's songs as a demo, and look for management.
SALT takes a while to get busy, and Mick does some more gigs with Wildwood Flower, plus numerous South London jams with different line-ups. However SALT picks up a residency at the Newlands Tavern in Peckham and begins to build a following. By the end of the year the band is playing occasional dates at the 100 Club and other club and college venues.
By now the band, with Steve "Arthur Wilson" Smith on drums, has management, and dates are coming in from colleges around the country, plus a well attended residency at the Red Cow in Hammersmith. The band is picking up a strong following, and some dates such as Farnborough College are full scale rock gigs. In May the band travel to Munich for a residency at the PN Hithouse, returning to play their first date at the Marquee Club on the 29th. The band is playing regularly at most London venues, including the Nashville Rooms and The Greyhound, but work is still patchy, and Mick joins Mac and Jan for a holiday in the South of France, and a few adventures getting there and back. By the Autumn the band is gigging regularly at colleges up and down the country, dealing with all the rigours of the road including unreliable vans and breakdowns. Towards the end of year it plays its first date at the Bridgehouse, Canning Town.
Now with Alan Platt on drums, probably SALT's best year. It starts with a four week residency at the Marquee Club on Sundays .. plus the ongoing Bridgehouse residency on Saturday nights. At both the audiences build steadily and cross over, Also a session for BBC World Service and an odd interview with the broadcasting legend Brian Matthew. "Well boys, you're in your mid 20s.. are you concerned that you haven't made it yet?". Confused looks between Mick and Steve, and a faltering explanation that blues people look at things a little more long term than that.
A busy year follows, constantly touring up and down the country and dealing, as usual, with unreliable vans, PA systems and general disorganisation. Example.. Glasgow.. broke down on the way there.. rotten gig, no hotel, slept in van .. broke down on the way home. Ups and downs.. a great night opening for Muddy Waters at the New Victoria Theatre in London, but just weeks later Mick's guitar "Gnasher" is stolen in Leeds. (The guitar returns about nine months later). In August the band play at the Reading Festival.. the biggest festival in Britain at the time.
In September Alan Platt leaves to join Wilko Johnson's Solid Senders, and is replaced by Mac's old friend Slash (Colin Nash). the band continues to work solidly, now touring in Slash's Ford Granada.
A year of changes. Mick gets married, SALT's work is slowing down. In May Rod De'Ath and Lou Martin leave the Rory Gallagher Band, and the friends decide to form Ramrod - Mick, Lou, Rod, Steve and Mac. the plan is to use Rod and Lou's connections to take the band to the USA, and Rod tries hard to fix things up, but ultimately it doesn't happen. The band is stuck in the UK just as Punk is becoming the only game in town.. no chance of a deal. Ramrod play some great dates in London and tours in Ireland, but it's all a bit uphill. Now married to an American, Mick decides to leave the UK and try his luck in California
A full year living in Los Angeles. Initially at mother-in-law's house in Studio City.. this house was apparently built by Sonny and Cher when they first got their money from "I Got You Babe". All very strange. It's a different world alright.. after a bit Mick moves to an apartment just off Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Just across from The Roxy.. pizzas from the Rainbow Bar and Grill. All very interesting and enjoyable, but there's not much blues going on in LA. Mick sees John Hammond, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield and Canned Heat.. all great, but that's about it. He auditions for three days to join English exiles Badfinger but it doesn't work out. He forms a band and tries singing but it doesn't work out. A trip to San Francisco and days out in Malibu etc are all enjoyable, but Mick feels the pull of Old England. He's learned a lot but it's time to go home.
1980 - 85
Back in London Mick feels it's time, perhaps, to leave the rock'n'roll behind. He's playing gigs with Stevie Smith again, but it's a more casual affair. There is a new SALT and it does well at a couple of London residencies, but the big following and the energy of the 70s is gone. Mick has a young family, a mortgage and a full time job, booking people on ships for DFDS Seaways.
And, in the course of time, more changes. The family are gone - the job makes him redundant - the house is sold. In the words of Mick Hawksworth (on another matter).. "All Change".
But Mick has a new project.. The Mick Clarke Band. And with a new partner, Linda, Mick has a new life.
Mick records a demo at Elephant Studio, London.. run by his old friend Nigel's brother, Graham Sharpe. On asking around, Mick easily recruits Rod De'Ath, Lou Martin and Steve Waller to come and play on the demo. A debt never repaid. After approaching 22 record companies, Mick is offered a deal with Appaloosa Records, Italy. and in time, three albums are released - "Looking For Trouble", "Rock Me" and "All These Blues".
As a result Mick feels obliged to form a band, and plays his first solo date at Merlin's Cave, Kings Cross. More dates follow and Mick plays a few of the old SALT venues, although it's difficult. Mick ain't SALT. But the gigs are coming in, slowly, and at some venues Mick is building a new following, notably The Father Redcap in South London, The Frog and Bucket in Kent, and Mr Cherries down on the coast in Hastings. Between times Mick is gigging with Mick Hawksworth in "The Flying Neddies" and occasionally with with Doc Cox, (the infamous Ivor Biggun) and his band "Ivor's Jivors".
After a while offers come in from contacts made through the albums - Mick plays at the Belgium R&B Festival in Peer with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Robert Cray, and realises that there is a market out there for his music. Mick plays in Holland, by courtesy of Peter Kempe of the band The Juke Joints, and in Italy by courtesy of Appaloosa head Franco Ratti.
Mick is tipped off that there is an American band in town, the Rockin' Razorbacks, and their manager is looking for bands to take back to the States. Mick is there with a copy of "Rock Me" under his arm, and some weeks later a call comes through from Portland Oregon offering a tour. Mick flies first to LA and takes the Greyhound up to Portland, being met by the manager Steve Hettum, and given accommodation in the basement of Michael Kearsey, the Razorback's bass player. He is joined by drummer Rod De'Ath, Roger and Jebs on keyboards and bass, and over the course of five weeks the band builds a good following around town. Before leaving he records a show for local cable TV, with Rod, Dover Weinberg (Robert Cray Band), Westside Johnny on harp and Zack on the bass. An album is subsequently recorded and released as "West Coast Connection".
In all the band tours on the West Coast five times, playing dates in LA, with CJ Chenier and Linda Hopkins and in Seattle and Washington State including a show with Johnny Winter in Olympia. They play with Canned Heat in the band's hometown of Eugene, Oregon, and Mick is pleased to meet Hank - Henry Vestine - The "Sunflower". But it's difficult to break out of the area onto a national stage, and Mick never makes a profit from the tours. His attention shifts to Central Europe.
Mick has been approached by one Markus Gygax, who runs a Rory Gallagher fan magazine, and is interested in booking Mick in his home town of Chur, Switzerland. The band fly over for a one off show and it goes well. It is quickly followed by a festival appearance in the nearby mountains, and then a ten day tour of the whole country. Soon Mick is playing also in Austria, Germany and Italy, and tours are extended for as long as six weeks. Mick works also for other agents in Germany, Holland and Italy and the band prospers.
By 1989 the band is recording a new album with producer Mike Vernon, and it's released on Line Records, Germany.
1990 - 95
Mick's executive producer at Line, Hans Pohle, starts his own label, and Mick records his new album for Taxim Records. Based in Bremen, they have distribution through the major label East-West. Now back at Elephant Studio with engineer Nick Robbins, Mick records "Tell the Truth" with Mike Hirsh, Mick Phillips, Lou Martin and Dangerous Dave Newman on the harp. The album sells well.. tracks such as "New Star Over Texas" are still popular online.
The band's popularity in Europe continues to build. Now with Chris Sharley on drums, dates include The Bonn Blues Festival - first with Canned Heat and later with Rory Gallagher, and the Tanzbrunnen Open Air with Johnny Winter. The next album is "No Compromise", with Chris, Mick Phillips, Lou and Dangerous. Tracks such as "Talking with the Blues" stand out, and "Backseat Blues" spends six weeks on the Virgin Radio playlist in the UK.
Album sales are healthy and there are good advance orders for the next release "Roll Again", now featuring Mick Hawksworth on bass, with Chris, Lou and Dave. The album achieves excellent initial sales, but the music business is changing fast. People are now making perfect CD copies at home, and the days of big selling records are over.
1995 - 2000
The band continues to tour steadily across Europe, but record sales are now slumping. Mick decides to do a duo album with Lou Martin, and it's released on his US label, Burnside. The cover photo shows Mick and Lou jamming in a pub in Clapham, South London, with photographer / bluesman Dave Peabody and Delta blues legend "Honeyboy" Edwards in attendance, enjoying a British pint off camera. Following the release Mick and Lou play extended tours of Scotland and Ireland..(best audience quote from Cork.."which one's Rory Gallagher?"). They play dates around London and also tour in France and Belgium.
Mick plans an acoustic album to follow, but realising that there is a need for a new band project, it becomes "New Mountain" with Chris, Lou and Ian Ellis on bass.
Mick is asked by Franco Ratti of Appaloosa Records if he'd be interested in recording a Killing Floor re-union album. After asking around Mick finds that there is a real interest from the band members, and songwriting and rehearsal sessions are put in place. Drummer Bazz Smith can't be located, so Chris Sharley is drafted in on drums. Sessions are set up at The Moat Studio in Brixton, South London. At the last moment Bazz is found living in Switzerland. he flies in and plays on two tracks of the new album, which is released as "Zero Tolerance". Following the album release offers for Killing Floor come in from festival bookers. The band plays several festivals around Europe in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Italy.
The Mick Clarke Band meanwhile, continue to play festivals and tour dates, including the Rocking The Blues festival in England with The Yardbirds, and the Big Blues in Luxembourg with Bo Diddley, which was released as the "Live in Luxembourg" album.
Mick and Linda are married in 2000, honeymooning in Morocco, with a trip to Marrakesh. In October 2003 Mick's son Jamie, now living in Los Angeles, kills himself, aged 21. Completely devastated Mick takes several months off the road, but in Spring of the following year Mick takes a break in Boscastle, Cornwall. An unusual and almost mystical experience, seeing Jamie's name spelled out in the sunset clouds, brings a kind of closure, and Mick later returns to regular work, to play dates including the Piazza Blues Festival in Bellinzona, Switzerland.
In 2007 Mick and Linda move out of London and relocate to a small village on the Surrey / Sussex border, an area which Mick refers to as "The Surrey Badlands". The next year or so is spent mainly updating the house, and then embarking on building Mick's home studio, which becomes known as "Rockfold". The band is working less now, but a new album is released on Taxim Records, "Solid Ground".
Mick embarks on another side project, reforming SALT for a tour of London clubs. With Stevie Smith, Stuart McDonald and Chris Sharley again on the drums, the band revives old favourites such as "The Cobra's Melody". A second tour follows plus an appearance in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
The first project from Rockfold Studio is "The Rambunctious Blues Experiment" - emanating from a live jam between Mick and drummer Russell Chaney. Mick then starts to experiment with a combination of live drums and samples, and the next album "Ramdango" is produced by Mick alone. The idea seems to work and Mick continues to produce one man projects, with occasional guests. At the time of writing there are regular releases on Spotify and other online platforms, with compilations of albums being released by BGO Records.
Mick and Linda take a trip to the Philippines for the marriage of Linda's son Daniel and his new wife Cherry. An enjoyable break visiting the "Chocolate Hills" and spending time in a shack by the Sulu Sea.
The Mick Clarke Band continues to tour, and in 2012 Mick, Ed and Chris play at the Simply The Blues festivals in Mumbai and Bangalore, India. Mick also plays at the Mostar Festival in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in 2018 the Mick Clarke Band with Killing Floor's Mac on bass play at Sweden Rock Festival.. directly opposite Iron Maiden. Currently off the road due to the Covid emergency, Mick continues to record and release new material. To be continued..
The End. (For now).
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