Print Shortlink

Clarke, Michael (3rd June 1946-19th December 1993)

Drummer from Spokane, Washington, who left home whilst still in his teens to be a part of the Californian music scene.

He was playing congas in a San Francisco coffee house when he met Roger McGuinn (then Jim).  Gene Clark and Jim (Roger) McGuinn hired Michael, along with David Crosby, to form The Byrds.  Michael is credited with co-writing a couple of their songs, “Artificial Energy” and “Captain Soul”.

He stayed with them until 1967 and then relocated to the Hawaiian islands where he worked for a short time in a hotel.  He re-emerged within a year and appeared on a pair of albums, The Fantastic World of Dillard & Clark, and Burrito Deluxe, by The Flying Burrito Brothers.  After his stint with the FBB, he re-joined the Byrds for a reunion LP, and then hooked up with the soft-rock outfit, Firefall.

Jerry Jeff Walker recruited him for his band in the 1980s, and Michael performed in various incarnations of the Byrds, including Gene Clark’s new band, Firebyrds.  He started his own Byrds band in 1987, incurring the wrath of Byrds alums for using the name.  In spite of this, the original band members reunited for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

On 19th December 1993, Michael passed away in Treasure Island, Florida, of liver failure, after years of heavy drinking.  Michael was also a painter, and some of his paintings were posthumously published in Musicians As Artists, a book by Dick Gautier and Jim McMullan.  His girlfriend, Susan Paul, has since founded The Campaign for Alcohol-Free Kids, in Michael’s name.

Here he is on drums with The Byrds performing “Mr. Spaceman”…