Fenton Record Label: Confined Congregation / Please Come Back (Fenton 2134) 1966,
Surface World / We Got Something Going (Fenton 2208) 1967.
- Rich Siegel (Guitar, vocals)
- Craig Clarke (Bass, vocals)
- Phil Sucoop (Guitar)
- Floyd Johnson (Keyboards)
- Bill Alexander (Drums)
- Some other member in the early years Roy Johnson drums, Dan Preston drums and Eric Clarke came back to Grand Rapids from California and joint the band for various gigs to bring his very special lead guitar talent for all of the Yard Birds and Hendrix material trough 1966-67.
Interview with Craig Clarke with permission from 60sgaragebands.com
In addition to being a member of The Jades (two singles on the Fenton label), bassist Craig Clarke also worked at Great Lakes Recording Studio with Dave Kalmback. While working there, Craig assisted many other bands in the recording of their songs, most notably The Woolies when they recorded their classic version of Who Do You Love. While they recorded several more songs, unfortunately only the two Fenton singles have survived. But both singles are a living testament to the ability and talent of The Jades.
An Interview With Craig Clarke
60sgaragebands.com (60s): How did you first get interested in music?
Craig Clarke (CC): My father was a violinist and wanted me and my brother and sister to play an instrument. I started taking classical guitar lessons at Carl’s Guitar Studio on Fulton St. when I was ten.
60s: You worked at Great Lakes Recording Studio through high school. How did you land the job?
CC: The Jades had been together about a year before I started working there. You may not know but Great Lakes Recording was in the Sparta Theater (the high ceilings were one of the reasons for the unique sounds produced at Great Lakes). Our keyboard player joined the band about a year after we started and at the time he was working on weekends at the popcorn counter. Dave Kalmback was installing this huge Wurlitzer organ in the studio and many of the pipes were behind the movie screen. They were so big he needed help putting them in. I got the job. Then I stared doing other thing around the studio. But instead of taking money I got recording time.
60s: Was The Jades your first band?
CC: Yes, we formed the band when I was 14. I quit taking classical lessons, bought a bass guitar at Carl’s and took a few lessons on the bass.
60s: Where was the band formed?
CC: We all went to Sparta High School in 1964. Original members were Rich Seigel – guitar; Craig Clarke – bass; Phil Succop – guitar; and Roy Johnson – drummer. Our drummer quit about six months later so we replaced him with Dan Preston, and we added a keyboard player named Floyd Johnson. In 1966 Our drummer was replaced by Bill Alexander; that was the last change in personnel until the band broke up a few years later.
60s: Where did the band typically play?
CC: Every Friday there were dances after the football games and basketball games. We were booked almost every weekend at different high schools like Rockford, Sparta, Rogers, Cedar Springs, Tri-County, Coppersville, Lowell, etc. In the summer we played a few parties but for two summers we played three nights a week at a club in Hess Lake. We played a few times at the Sparta Theater before the movie (started).
60s: Did you play any of the local Michigan teen clubs?
CC: Other than the Place a few times we didn’t play (many) clubs.
60s: How would you describe the bands sound? What band’s influenced you?
CC: Loud with a lot of harmony. (We were influenced by) The Beatles, The Animals, The Stones, The Yardbirds, Van Morrison. We played our originals also.
60s: The Jades competed in a Battle of the Bands won by The Soulbenders. What do you recall about this battle?
CC: We were in a few large Battle of the Bands at the Place and the Black & Silver Room at the Pantland Hotel. The Place was the largest crowd we ever played for. We got to the final round after three semifinals and play-offs. There was always a huge crowd – maybe 1,000 or more – and even larger at the finals. What a blast for the bands.
60s: Did the Jades have a manager?
CC: Dave Kalmback became our manger after our second record. He had a Sunn dealership (great amps), got us outfitted with new gear (and arranged) some more recording. He was trying to get us some bigger venues to keep us together but some of us had plans to go to college. He did get us an audition for Little Richard’s back-up band but we didn’t get the job.
60s: How far was the band’s touring territory?
CC: Just Michigan.
60s: How popular locally did The Jades become?
CC: In our small rural area we were very popular but we were like so many other bands at that time: The longer you stayed together the more popular you became. There were so many bands that came and went during the five years we were together. I could probably count on two hands the bands that really became popular in the Grand Rapids area. Maybe two that really did well.
60s: What were some of those other local groups?
CC: We competed with The Mothers from Bay City (I think) in a Battle of the Bands at the Black & Silver Room. They were one of the best groups I’ve ever seen. Locally, Me and Dem Guys were the best around here. They became Common People, and had a few different vocalists. Lynn from Lynn and The Invaders joined them in the Seventies and one of their singers went on to sing for Toto.
While at the recording studio, Dave asked me to come in late one night to help set up for a group named The Woolies. That night they recorded Who Do You Love. The recording was great but this band was one of the best. That song got on the Top 20 nationally and Dunhill Records picked them up.
60s: At the time, did you have any gut feeling that Who Do You Love would be come such a hit?
CC: When I helped set up for The Woolies and first heard them play I knew they were not the average band; that they had something special and they were a very professional group. There were so many bands that came through that studio some that didn’t have a recognizable band name but later had a hit. Me and Dem Guys was a great band. The Buckinghams was another.
60s: The Jades released two singles on the Fenton label.
CC: We recorded at The Great Lakes Studio in Sparta. The sessions were a lot of work but always fun. Dave was a master at the recording process. I remember the large 8-track recorder that almost filled the room.
60s: Who wrote the band’s original songs?
CC: Rich Seigel was the most prolific musician in the band, but Bill Alexander and myself all wrote songs for the band. Bill and I wrote a two songs that we recorded and Rich wrote the others. We wrote several that were never recorded. We recorded a couple songs that never got on a 45.
60s: Do you recall any titles? And do you know what may have happened to them?
CC: I really don’t remember the other songs other than one called Backlash and one called Down Home. My favorite is Surface World, and then the one that Rich wrote, Confined Congregation.
60s: Have any of those unreleased recordings survived?
CC: I don’t think so.
60s: What was the inspiration for the songs that comprised the singles?
CC: Please Come Back was about a lost love. When you’re 15 what else is there? Ha, Ha. Confined Congregation and Surface World were a precursor to the protest songs; they dealt with problems in our society and different groups of people that exclude others (deep). We Got Something Going was written in the studio as a fill in piece. When we put out the first 45 the radio stations didn’t know which side to play, so with this one we didn’t want to leave any doubt what side was the A-side.
60s: Did the band make any local TV appearances?
60s: Why did the band break up?
CC: We all graduated in ’68 except for Bill. He (graduated in) ’69. Rich, Phil, and I went to different colleges. We got together a couple of times on breaks but that was the end.
60s: Did you join or form any bands after The Jades?
CC: Bill and I got together a few years later in a three-piece country rock bar band that lasted three years playing locally. I’ve kept playing with some rock & roll bands over the years, and currently have been playing with a Blues band for the last four years. My son is the singer. Blues Stew is the name.
I am in sales of industrial equipment for warehouse and storage systems. I have kept playing and writing and recording over the years, and the band I’m with is playing at local venues.
60s: How do you best summarize your experience with The Jades?
CC: I wouldn’t trade it for the world. What an experience for your teenage years – playing music almost every day, meeting people and making friends that have many of the same interests as you, traveling around your state (and) having more fun than you should be able to have. It was a great time and even though my father has been gone for quite some time I say my thanks that he encouraged me to take those guitar lessons. Today I am able to play with my son and some other young musicians and it never gets old.
Confined Congregation / Please Come Back (Fenton 2134) 1966
Surface World / We Got Something Going (Fenton 2208) 1967