Born: October 3, 1946 Primary Instrument: Drums
Mike Clark gained worldwide recognition as one of America’s foremost jazz and funk drummers while playing with Herbie Hancock’s group in the early 1970’s. Mike became known as a major innovator through his incisive playing on Hancock’s Thrust album, which garnered him an international cult following.
Mike has performed with jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw, Larry Coryell, Jack Wilkins, Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Billy Childs, James Genus, Bob Hurst, Chris Potter, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Dave Liebman, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., Bill Doggett, Mose Allison, Maxine Brown, Gil Evans and his orchestra, and did a stint with Brand X, the acclaimed British fusion band, founded by Phil Collins. He has performed throughout the world at all the major jazz venues and festivals.
Featured in Downbeat, Musician, International Musician & Recording World, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Is and numerous jazz history and method books, Mike is a former faculty member of Drummers Collective, and is a popular and busy clinician around the country. His book Funk Drumming: Innovative Grooves & Advanced Concepts was published last year by Hal Leonard and is a best seller.
Called “the most sampled drummer in hip hop” Mike’s beats have been used on tracks by musicians as diverse as NWA, Grandmaster Flash, Britney Spears, Prince and many others.
His numerous recording credits include albums with Herbie Hancock, the Headhunters, Brand X, Eddie Henderson, Jack Wilkins, Mark Puricelli, Mike Wolff, and Alien Army, a group led by guitar great Jack Wilkins. As a bandleader, his release Give The Drummer Some was very enthusiastically received, earning a rare four and a half stars in Downbeat, as was The Funk Stops Here, a joint effort with Hancock alumni Paul Jackson. In 2001, his solo CD, Actual Proof met with critical acclaim, as did the 2003 acoustic jazz release, Summertime, featuring Chris Potter and Billy Childs, which spent many weeks in the top ten charts.
Other efforts included a compilation of his legendary, innovative funk beat samples, Mike Clark��The Headhunter, a re-release of the widely acclaimed Thrust album, and, in 1998, The Return Of The Headhunters, featuring Herbie Hancock. Next came Herbie Hancock’s Box Set, featuring Headhunters classics “Actual Proof” and “Butterfly,” from Thrust, a few choice cuts from Manchild, and also some historical tracks from the classic Flood, previously only available in Japan. The Headhunters’ newest effort, Evolution/Revolution, released in 2003, featured the latest Headhunter configuration, with original founding members Mike, Bill Summers and Paul Jackson, joined by Donald Harrison, Victor Atkins (Los Hombres Caliente), and Nicholas Payton.
Of his latest endeavor, a recording as a bandleader with Christian MacBride, Donald Harrison, Patrice Rushen, Jed Levy and Christian Scott, produced by Talking House Productions, Mike said it promises to be “some of the most exciting music I’ve ever been involved with.” He’s also featured on Mike Wollf’s latest recording Love And Destruction, and just got out of the studio with country blues legend Delbert McClinton
His band Prescription Renewal, which debuted in the winter of 2000, electrified audiences across the country with an eclectic core of cross generational multi talents such as Charlie Hunter, Fred Wesley, Skerik, Robert Walter, and DJ Logic, and always featured stellar special guests such as George Porter Jr. of Funky Meters’ fame, Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident, Les Claypool, Will Bernard, Larry Goldings and fellow Headhunters alumni, Bill Summers, and proved a hit on the thriving young jam band scene. Touring concurrently that year and the next was the Roots Funk All Stars, another hot ad hoc association that married Mike with James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley, former Headhunter cohort and funk bassist legend Paul Jackson, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Robben Ford. In 2004 he teamed up for a series of gigs with fellow drumming legend Lenny White in a two drummer powerhouse band called New Brew featuring music inspired by Miles Davis’ landmark recording Bitches Brew.
Mike is currently busy touring with his own Prescription Organ Trio / Duo, featuring Jerry Z, doing clinics and performing at clubs and concerts nationwide. He’s also a regular in pianist Mike Wolf’s band, Impure Thoughts and continues to do Headhunters’ projects around the world. Mike just returned from the annual PASIC convention in Austin, TX where he performed with fellow drummer Jim Payne to an enthusiastic full house. In 2007, he has tours booked throughout Europe, South America, South Africa and Russia.
Mike’s work continues to influence successive generations of drummers since his explosive arrival on the music scene with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.