Born in Tottenham, North London, Clark left school without qualifications at the age of 15 and became a film stuntman, performing in over 40 films. In the late 1950s Clark bought himself a set of drums, taught himself how to play them, and formed a skiffle band to raise funds so that his football team could travel to the Netherlands. The skiffle band grew into the Dave Clark Five with Clark their leader, co-songwriter, manager and producer.
The Dave Clark Five grew in popularity in the UK. They unseated the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" from its number one spot in the UK singles charts in January 1964 with "Glad All Over". The British press, briefly, called them the Beatles' "most serious threat". The Dave Clark Five were the first British Invasion band to follow the Beatles to America in 1964, where they achieved 15 consecutive Top 20 hits. They also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show more times than any other English group. Dave Clark became a popular name for babies in the 1960s.
Andrew Loog Oldham, former manager of the Rolling Stones, said of the band's early success as rivals to the Beatles:
If the Beatles ever looked over their shoulders, it was not the Stones they saw. They saw the Dave Clark 5 or Herman's Hermits.
The band broke up in 1970 and in 1972. Clark stopped drumming after he broke four knuckles in a tobogganing accident in 1972.
He later wrote a science fiction stage musical, Time, which debuted in 1986. It played for two years in London's West End, starring Cliff Richard (replaced later by David Cassidy). The musical also launched a concept album called Time which featured Richard, Freddie Mercury, Leo Sayer, Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick. Two million copies were sold and it spun off several hit singles.
Clark is a successful entrepreneur and a multi-millionaire. He owns a £12 million house in West London. From the outset, Clark owned the rights to all the Dave Clark Five music masters and in 1993 he released remastered versions of all their singles on a CD, Glad All Over Again. In the late 1960s, in addition to managing his band, Clark began directing and producing for television. In 1968 he made a "very successful" television production, Hold On, It's the Dave Clark Five. In the 1980s he acquired the rights to the 1960s UK music show Ready Steady Go!.
On the release of a (DC5) British hits album in the mid-'70s, Clark resided in the US for a year, thus avoiding paying UK taxes in Britain on the proceeds of that release. The British government challenged this but lost the case in court.
Clark was a close friend of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, who he had known since 1975. Clark had taken over the bedside vigil of Mercury when he died in November 1991.
In 2008, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the band, the Dave Clark Five was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clark, making a rare public appearance, and the two other surviving band members accepted the award on behalf of the group.
In 2014 Clark wrote, produced, appeared in, and partly presented, the 115-minute documentary The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over.