Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Drummer Mike Clark is well known as the drummer for Herbie Hancock's funk-jazz outfit the Headhunters, and headed up the group after Hancock left to pursue other projects. But Clark goes far beyond playing simple R&B rhythms, becoming one of the more astute contemporary jazz drummers who also writes his own music. Born October 3, 1946, in Sacramento, CA, Clark began his professional career at age six in New Orleans, dipping into blues, soul, and jazz. As a youth, he split time between Texas and Northern and Southern California, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, prominently performing with Vince Guaraldi on the legendary themes for the Peanuts television projects. He was also the drummer on the controversial raunchy R&B album by Betty Davis entitled They Say I'm Different in 1974. Clark and the pioneering electric bass guitarist Paul Jackson worked together until both of them were recruited for the Headhunters, recording Thrust, Flood, and Man-Child with Hancock on the Columbia label, and the Headhunters' albums for Arista Records.
Then Clark started his career as a leader with the 1989 Stash album Give the Drummer Some, with help from heavyweights like Jack Wilkins, Jack Walrath, and Ricky Ford. Hopping from label to label over the next 15 years, Clark issued The Funk Stops Here for the Enja label in 1991, was part of Master Drummers, Vol. 3 for Ubiquity, collaborated with Jackson and vibraphonist Marc Wagnon for the 2001 Buckyball CD Conjunction, and issued Summertime for JazzKey in 2003 and his triumphant 2008 release, Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 1, for Talking House Records. Along the way, Clark revived the Headhunters for recordings and touring, and over the years has collaborated with the likes of Eddie Henderson, Shawn Phillips, Alphonso Johnson, Marc Puricelli, Jeff and Suzanne Pittson, Ned Sublette, Percy Jones, Henry Franklin, Michael Wolff, Dave Ellis, Brian Auger, Christian McBride, Patrice Rushen, Towner Galaher, Jed Levy, Billy Childs, Chris Potter, Josh Roseman, Bob Sheppard, Dave Fiuczynski, Donald Harrison, Christian Scott, Robert Hurst, and James Genus. Like Herbie Hancock, Clark is a devotee of the Buddhist philosophies of Nichiren Daishonin.