Martin Clarke

My fond memories of Martin   Martin's induction into Hall of fame & History   WA Music Icon passes
 


Johnny Young on Clarion

This LP is Johnny Young - SURPRISES - issued in 1968 on small Perth, Australia label Clarion MCL32752

Tracks include 3 Gibb songs, WILL SHOW YOU, I AM THE WORLD and CRAISE FINTON KIRK on which the Bee Gees sang backing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I recall it - Roland Ott:

I have some very fond memories of my friend Martin. I recall a meeting with Martin as I asked him to do some voice over work for me, as he had this deep radio announcers voice and had done a number of freelance radio commercials.

The best part was he never charged me

However before that I did spend a lot of time with Martin in his first recording studio at his home in Peppermint Grove. His Mummy had purchased him all the latest recording equipment available at that time and he started to experiment with radio commercials, voiceovers and later with bands and artists.

Eventually he blow me away when he revealed his plans for a huge recording studio in North Fremantle and build it!

I remember doing a recording session there with Lionel Yorke "YORKIE" (who I was managing at the time) for a record album including a live recreation in the studio of a "Yorkie's Krazy Nite", which was made so very famous at the Floreat Hotel.

Much later, securing the funds and the freehold of an old house on 272 Hay St, East Perth which he knocked down and replaced, from the ground up, he  purpose-built another  recording studio and sold the North Fremantle Studio to Will Upson, I think. The Upson Brother did many recording there including audio and musical tracks for television shows..

Martin Clarke watched Perth and its music industry change and evolve for the better half of the twentieth century.

As the founder of Perth’s first record label Clarion he has been instrumental in, not only the success of countless local artists including Johnny Young and The Valentines (featuring a young Bon Scott),
Peter Piccini but the development of the Perth music community into a functioning industry.

Clarke built the Clarion studio at 21 and had a passion for recording radio dramas as well as music of all genres.

Clarion the record label saw its hey day span the 60s, 70s and 80s with hit records distributed in Australia and overseas.  

Clarke cited Johnny Young as his favourite recording artist and the key to his success.  Clarke’s dedication to professional production saw world standard vinyl cutting not matched elsewhere is Australia and recording hits come directly out of Perth at a time when this was all too rare.

 

MARTIN CLARKE
Inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005


“I thought it was fantastic and I very much appreciate being thought of.”

Martin Clarke has been around for a long time and has watched Perth and its music industry change and evolve for the better half of the twentieth century. As the founder of Perth’s first record label Clarion he has been instrumental in, not only the success of countless local artists including Johnny Young and The Valentines, but the development of the Perth music community into a functioning industry. Clarke’s career is a pivotal point in the founding of the local music industry and for this he was inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005.

Born into a musical family, in 1940 Clarke was an avid radio listener, expressing a keenness for both music and drama. His favourite radio shows were serial dramas, which he eagerly listened to on a regular basis; “Australia had some of the finest [dramatic] programs.” Like most of the inductees from the 60s era, Clarke’s interest and pursuits in the music industry began by current standards very early, at age twelve he was already seeking work in radio broadcasting. After expressing his desires to his mother she promptly recruited the help of a friend, owner of AM radio stations 6PR and 6PI. Clarke was soon directed to the manager of 6PR who promised him a job as soon as the pre-adolescent turned fifteen. Luckily for a young Clarke, he kept to his word three years later, in 1955. Clarke commenced work in the control room of the 6PR radio station, while continuing his studies at Scotch College; “That was the last school I went to, and then I went out to work.”  With 6PR he was charged with the responsibility of cueing and playing thirty second, 78-speed vinyl recordings of hundreds of commercials sent out from Melbourne and Sydney; “In those days it was quite a different thing to what it is today… the announcer, or the disc jockeys as you would call them, didn’t play them. That was our job.”

After a year with 6PR Clarke moved on to 6KY where he worked in the office and by the time Clarke ended his internship he had already decided he wanted to build and run his own studio in Perth. He thus set out to save money and learn as much as he could about radio and recording methods; “An actual recording studio doesn’t mean just sticking a microphone up and hoping for the best, though I think sometimes that does work.” Always a lover of drama, Clarke later began working for the National Playhouse Theatre where he took part in a number of ‘fine’ productions including Pygmalion, Cyrano de Bergerac and Aunty Mame.

At the young age of 21, Clarke was already making his dream a reality, securing the funds and the freehold of an old house on 272 Hay St, East Perth which he knocked down and replaced, from the ground up, with a purpose-built recording studio; “The studio was what we call a room within a room, the ceiling was high, it was 26 feet.” However, it wasn’t until 1966 that the Clarion label was really up and running. Clarke says that it was simply impossible to set up a label straight away so he was available for any type of recording; “I wanted to get into recording, not only music, but everything”; so he did just that, recording choirs, bands and, of course, his own beloved dramatic programs, one of which was called ‘Deadline Plus Five’, “all the action had to be finished within five minutes.” What makes Clarke’s accomplishment more incredible is that during the 60s most recordings, which were played on the less than 150 existent commercial radio stations Australia-wide, were coming out of Melbourne and Sydney.

In his studio, Clarke had something else which was totally unique, a Neumann lacquer-cutting lathe he had bought in Germany and is known as the best vinyl cutting head in the world. This allowed Clarke to oversee the production of the vinyls themselves, rather than risk the original masters being destroyed on transference to the factory and giving him total control of the final sound; “No one in Australia did that, it hadn’t been done before and hasn’t been done since.”

Specifically, Clarke cites Johnny Young – whom he met at the latter’s weekly TV show Club 17 on Channel 7 – as his favourite recording artist and the key to his success; “We just got together and he said he wanted to make a national hit and branch out, he was very ambitious.” That’s precisely what the pair did and Clarke, armed with his recordings of Johnny Young, went to Sydney and secured a deal with Festival Records to have the Clarion label manufactured and distributed throughout Australia. Among others, Bon Scott’s original Perth-band The Valentines are also a band Clarke recorded and views with esteem, “they got off their backsides and went to the East which was important.”

In its heyday, which lasted almost three decades, Clarion was doing up to five releases a week. Apart from very occasional recordings with the symphony, it was mostly players from pubs who recorded on Clarke’s label. He attributes being at the right place at the right time; “It just happened that all the talent was in Western Australia at the time…because the hits that we made weren’t just hits in WA, but hits in every part of Australia.”

It was Clarke’s success in, not only producing the records he did, but being able to distribute them nationwide that made Clarke and Clarion’s contribution to the Perth music industry so important; “Good, bad or indifferent, it was nice to be able to be the first that really made successful recordings in Western Australia. People had been making all sorts of records in Perth, which never saw the light of day. The Clarion label brought it into the national and even international scope.” Clarke’s success not only extended to the Australian market, but the international one also, making trips to the US at least twice a year, for months at a time promoting Perth-based artists.  

In 1989, Clarke felt he had gone as far he could go (“as the song says”). His mother, the last of his family in Perth, had passed on in 1985 and he too decided it was time to move on; “the world was changing, as it always does, and music just keeps moving on.”  Having already seen the world thanks to his success with Clarion, Clarke finally made the decision to move to England, where he still had family connections, and branch out in the music business abroad; “There’s nothing wrong with Australia, I love Australia.”

Currently, Clarke dabbles in publicity in London, and always has his ears open for new talent; “Just to keep an interest in listening. That’s what keeps me going.” The Clarion studio was “built to last” and still stands, although, last Clarke heard it was being used as an office building. As for his recordings, Clarke recently licensed off the rights to English label Cherry Red which has released thirty tracks in a retrospective compilation of Clarion recordings; “So Clarion is still around in the name, but it’s not running.”

Clarke believes that the period in which Clarion was operational, especially during the 60s and 70s, was a time when it really happened and there was always work around for people with talent; “You couldn’t stop it, it was just happening… that to me was the age. But as far as product is concerned, I think there are good things still to come.”

 

WA MUSIC INDUSTRY ICON PASSES
Founder of Perth’s first record label Clarion and general luminary of the WA music industry Martin Clarke passed away last fortnight.  04/06
Born in 1940, Clarke had a heart attack at 5am on Tuesday March 28 in London.  WAM, the West Australian Music Industry Association Inc, would like to acknowledge the sad passing of a great contributor to the West Australian community. Clarke’s career is a pivotal point in the founding of the local music industry and for this he was inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005.  Steph Kretowicz recently profiled Clarke for WAM based on telephone interviews held in 2005.

Martin Clarke watched Perth and its music industry change and evolve for the better half of the twentieth century. As the founder of Perth’s first record label Clarion he has been instrumental in, not only the success of countless local artists including Johnny Young and The Valentines (featuring a young Bon Scott), but the development of the Perth music community into a functioning industry.

Clarke built the Clarion studio at 21 and had a passion for recording radio dramas as well as music of all genres.  Clarion the record label saw its hey day span the 60s, 70s and 80s with hit records distributed in Australia and overseas.  Clarke cited Johnny Young as his favourite recording artist and the key to his success.  Clarke’s dedication to professional production saw world standard vinyl cutting not matched elsewhere is Australia and recording hits come directly out of Perth at a time when this was all too rare.

WAM Executive Director, Paul Bodlovich commented:
"It’s hard to overstate the impact that Martin had on the local music industry.  His induction drew considerable attention and reminded us all of the importance of acknowledging the past in looking to build a
better future.  On a personal note, I'll miss the regular chats that I've had with Martin over the past year or so."
 

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Tuesday, 11. April 2006 RO


 
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