Sunday, December 27, 2020

Godspeed Chad Stuart

Chad Stuart, who with Jeremy Clyde formed the British music duo Chad & Jeremy, died on December 20 2020 at the age of 79. The cause was pneumonia. Chad & Jeremy had a string of hits in the United States in the 1960s.

Chad Stuart was born David Stuart Chadwick on December 10 1941 in Windermere, Cumbria. His father was a foreman in the lumber industry, while his mother was a nurse. His family moved to West Hartlepool, although Chad Stuart spent much of his childhood at Durham Cathedral Chorister School. As a chorister he received a scholarship to the school.

Afterwards he attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, which is where he met Jeremy Clyde. The pair's backgrounds couldn't be more different. Chad Stuart hailed from a northern town, while Jeremy Clyde grew up in Buckinghamshire and is the great grandson of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Regardless, they quickly became friends. By 1962 the two were performing as a folk music duo.

In 1963 Chad & Jeremy regularly performed at a coffeehouse named Tina's. It was there that they were discovered by composer John Barry. Mr. Barry got the duo signed to the small recording label Ember. It was on Ember that their first single, "Yesterday's Gone," was released in the United Kingdom. There it was a minor hit, peaking at no. 37 on the singles chart.

With the demand for British music artists in the United States in the wake of Beatlemania, Chad & Jeremy arrived in the U.S. in 1964. While their folk music bore little resemblance to such popular beat groups as The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Hollies, nonetheless they proved successful in the United Stats. Released on the minor label World Artists Records, "Yesterday's Gone' went to no. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. They would have even more success with the single "A Summer Song." While the song did not chart at all in the United Kingdom, it went all the way to no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their first album, Yesterday's Gone, was released in the United States in July 1964.

With their success in the United States, Chad & Jeremy appeared frequently on television in the Sixties, more so in the United States than the United Kingdom. . In the United Kingdom they appeared on Thank Your Lucky Stars. In the U.S. they appeared on such music and variety shows as Shindig!, Hollywood a Go Go, The Merv Griffin Show, Where the Action Is, American Bandstand, The Andy Williams Show, Hullabaloo, The Hollywood Palace, The Red Skelton Show, and The Kraft Summer Music Hall. They appeared on The Julie London Special. They even appeared together on the game show The Hollywood Squares. Unlike many music groups of the time, Chad & Jeremy also appeared frequently on narrative television programs. They guest starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show (playing a group called The Redcoats), The Patty Duke Show, Laredo, and Batman. The Laredo episode, "That's Noway, Thataway," was a backdoor pilot for a pilot for a Western series that would have starred Chad & Jeremy as British actors in the Old West. Chad Stuart also provided the voice of Vulture in the classic Disney movie The Jungle Book (1967).

Chad and Jeremy continued to have hits in the United States through 1966, including "Willow Weep for Me," "If I Loved You," "Before and After," and "Distant Shores." Following "You Are She (which only reached no. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100) in 1966, their singles failed to chart. They released several albums between 1964 and 1965, including Chad & Jeremy Sing for You, Before and After, and I Don't Want to Lose You Baby. They became more ambitious with their albums Distant Shores, Of Cabbages and Kings, and The Ark. They also recorded songs for the movie Three in the Attic (1968).

It was in 1968 that Chad & Jeremy broke up.  Jeremy Clyde continued his acting career, while Chad Stuart continued to work in the music industry. He continued to perform for a time, even opening for the band Mountain. He also worked as a staff producer for A&M Records. Later he composed commercial jingles for radio and gave music lessons. Chad & Jeremy reunited to record the album Chad Stuart & Jeremy Clyde, released in 1983. From 1984 to 1985 they appeared together in the West End production of Pump Boys and Dinettes. In 1986 they toured the United States with other British Invasion bands Freddie and the Dreamers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, and The Mindbenders. In 1987 they had a two-week residency at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

In 2002 Chad & Jeremy recorded a new version of "Yesterday's Gone" as an additional track for the album In Concert (The Official Bootleg), which contained performances from their residency at Harrah's. In 2003 they appeared on the PBS special Pop-Rock Reunion. They re-recorded many of their songs for the album Ark-elogy, which was released in 2008 with the 40th anniversary of The Ark. 2010 saw the release of Chad & Jeremy's last album, the limited-edition Fifty Years On.

I have always thought that Chad & Jeremy have been under appreciated as music artists. Their hit songs were pleasant and conveyed both intimacy and longing. They were a sharp contrast to the more aggressiveness of rock music at the time and the rawness of the folk music of the time. Of Cabbages and Kings and The Ark, from later in their career, are often dismissed, but both albums show the musical genius of Chad & Jeremy. Side one of Of Cabbages and Kings features some of the most artful songs to emerge from the Psychedelic Era. Over all, The Ark was even better than Of Cabbages and Kings, a mix of psychedelia, British wit, and rich orchestration. Unfortunately, The Ark was abandoned by Columbia Records as Chad & Jeremy broke up. I rather have to think Chad & Jeremy will always be remembered for "Yesterday's Gone" and "The Summer Song," both tunes worthy of being called classics, but they did so much more worth listening to and worth being rediscovered.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for voices blended in harmony, and Chad and Jeremy in particular. Their records spoke to the "tween" Caftan Woman.