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Dee Clark

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Biography

Dee Clark (November 7, 1938 – December 7, 1990) was an American rhythm & blues and soul singer best known for a string of R&B and pop hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the ballad “Raindrops,” which became a million-seller in the United States in 1961.

He was born Delecta Clark in Blytheville, Arkansas, and moved to Chicago in 1941. His mother, Essie Mae Clark, was a gospel singer and encouraged her son to pursue his love of music. Clark made his first recording in 1952 as a member of the Hambone Kids, who enjoyed some success with a recording of “Hambone” on the OKeh label. In 1953, he joined an R&B group called the Goldentones, who later became the Kool Gents and were discovered by Chicago radio DJ Herb Kent upon winning a talent competition. Kent had the Kool Gents signed to Vee-Jay label’s subsidiary Falcon/Abner. The group recorded for Falcon/Abner in 1956, and also recorded a novelty record as “The Delegates”.
Clark embarked on a solo career in 1957, initially following the styles of Clyde McPhatter and Little Richard. When Little Richard temporarily abandoned his music career to study the Bible, Clark fulfilled Richard’s remaining live dates and also recorded with his backing band, the Upsetters. Over the next four years he landed several moderate hits, two of which (“Just Keep It Up” and “Hey Little Girl”) reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100). His records for Abner and Vee-Jay were orchestrated by Riley Hampton. His biggest single, “Raindrops,” a power ballad augmented by heavy rain and thunder sound effects and Clark’s swooping falsetto, was released in the spring of 1961 and became his biggest hit, soaring to number two on the pop chart and number three on the R&B charts.

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