Together again

For Chad & Jeremy, fame was fun, but man, it also was costly. Now a reunion tour has them in tune once again.

By Bill McFarland

Northeast Times Staff Writer

They say that all good things must end some day.
Autumn leaves must fall.
(Metcalfe, Noble, Stuart)

The first two lines of the bridge from A Summer Song aptly describe what brings Chad & Jeremy back to the Philadelphia area after 20 years.

After several years of hit records and television appearances in the 1960s, the British folk/pop duo ended their collaboration. But as autumn leaves begin to fall, the two will return to Glenside's quaint Keswick Theatre for a concert on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m.

Their tour, which begins Saturday in Monroe, Mich., is rooted in developments that started to take shape in 2003.

"It came about because we wanted to do it; that's the short answer," Jeremy Clyde said from his home in London. "I rang Chad about three years ago, told him that acoustic music was back and asked him how he felt about getting together again.

"To make a long story short, we decided to get back to the way things were in the old days, and it sort of worked out, so we kept doing it. We're old pals, and part of it was the idea of rediscovering a long-lost brother. Also, there was a sense of unfinished business, and we knew that if we didn't do it now, we wouldn't get another chance."

Interestingly, it was the way things were in the old days that drove the two apart and eventually out of the recording business. The story of Chad & Jeremy is quite complicated and full of details that the general public couldn't know or understand at the time.

"It's a complicated story with a lot of letdowns," concurred Chad Stuart from his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

"It was sort of a dichotomy for us. We were living in this adolescent dream world where teenage girls were screaming and chasing after us, and we had the suits (at the record companies) telling us what to do and taking our money."

"Ours was the standard story," said Clyde. "If you read all of the books, you'll find that everybody was broke at the end of the Sixties because nobody knew how the music business was run. It wasn't until then that artists woke up and began getting lawyers."

David Stuart Chadwick was born in December 1941 in Windermere and grew up in Hartlepool, both in the north of England.

Michael Thomas Jeremy Clyde was born in March of the same year in Dorney, Buckinghamshire (20 miles west of London), and his mother was the daughter of the Duke of Wellington, which would turn out to be a factor that hindered the duo's success in their homeland.

The two met at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, began playing initially as a folk duo and then formed a rock 'n' roll band in 1962. The Jerks also included Stephen Holder, Liam Hill and Ray Stiles.

The band broke up when Clyde left to begin an acting career in Scotland in 1963. He returned to London a year later for a stage role only to be thwarted by a strike by the actors union, Equity. Needing a source of income, Clyde reunited with his friend, now re-christened Chad Stuart. They signed with a tiny label, Ember, and recorded a song Stuart had written under his birth name, David Chadwick.

Surprisingly, Yesterday's Gone began to climb the British charts and then crashed when a photo was published of Clyde as a child at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

"We were just grateful that somebody had taken notice," Stuart said of the record. "Then the Daily Express printed that photo of Jeremy. Pop music, boxing and soccer were the diversions of the working class, and blue bloods were not welcome."

Chad & Jeremy would never again have a hit record in England.

The year was 1964, however, and the Beatles had begun the "British Invasion" that would rule the American music charts for a few years, and record labels were hungry for anything English. World Artists, a small company based in Pittsburgh, bought the American distribution rights, and soon Yesterday's Gone began to rise up the country charts and crossed over as a pop hit.

The follow-up, A Summer Song, was released in late 1964 and opened the floodgates for the struggling duo. As the song rode up the charts, Chad & Jeremy made appearances on the major music television programs at the time, such as Hollywood Palace, The Andy Williams Show, Shindig and Hullabaloo.

They also did dramatic turns on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Patty Duke Show and Batman, and were even offered a chance at their own show, the pilot of which was an appearance on the Western series Laredo, but the NBC network declined to go forward with that project.

Musically, follow-ups to their monster hit, such as Willow Weep for Me and If I Loved You, were also big hits, but the two became disillusioned with the lack of royalty payments for their recordings.

A deal with Columbia Records led to two of their most ambitious and critically acclaimed albums — Of Cabbages and Kings and The Ark — but neither was a commercial success.

"We wouldn't have had a career without them," said Stuart of the Columbia years. "We were getting bored with not getting paid, but we were still told what to do.

"Not selling records was sort of a Catch-22. As soon as Columbia caught wind of Jeremy's acting, they thought that we could only do one thing, and they stopped all advertising and promotion (for the albums)."

Also, although the duo had moved to California by 1965, Clyde was returning to England between television and recording dates to accept acting gigs. At one point, Stuart appeared with his wife at the time, the former Jill Gibson, because Clyde couldn't get out of an acting commitment. Chad & Jill cut one record — The Cruel War — that was sabotaged, he says.

"I made the mistake of playing it for Peter Yarrow," explained Stuart. "He put some strings on it and released it as a Peter, Paul & Mary song, and we both rode up the charts at the same time. Both (records) stalled around the middle of the charts."

The constant setbacks finally spelled the end for Chad & Jeremy.

"I wanted to get back into acting and not have to deal with the horrors of the music business," said Clyde. "It was much easier being an actor because I didn't have to worry about the bass player being on drugs or anything like that. It was such a relief to be responsible for only myself.

"The making of the music was the fun part of it. It was the managers and the other stuff. We had all of the glory, but it didn't pay the bills."

A 1983 reunion album and tour began with the best of intentions but crashed when the label, Rocshire Records, went bankrupt and its owner — identified on the Internet only as an eccentric millionaire named "Rocky" — went to jail.

"They embezzled the money from Hughes Aircraft," said Stuart, who offered no more information about the mysterious Rocky. "I don't really want to know any more about him because he's out of jail now."

A 1986 British Invasion II tour, with Gerry & the Pacemakers, Freddie & the Dreamers, and the Searchers, was successful.

"My analogy of that tour was that we felt like the Wright Brothers on a Lear jet," recalled Stuart. "We had a luxury bus with a microwave and TV and all that. It wasn't like the Dick Clark tours in the old days with a bunch of bands stuffed on an old bus, and they flipped coins to determine who got to sleep in the luggage racks."

That 1986 tour included a stop in our area.

After beginning their set with Yesterday's Gone, Clyde simply said to the crowd, "It's been a while. Hasn't it?"

After somebody yelled out, "You haven't changed a bit," Clyde waited until the applause died down and said, "Neither have you."

"I remember somebody saying that, but I didn't remember the comeback (line)," laughed Clyde. "That was in a theater in the round, wasn't it?"

The long-gone Valley Forge Music Fair was a circular theater with a revolving stage in the center.

These days, Jeremy Clyde lives in London and has an extensive list of appearances on stage, screen and television. Chad Stuart continued to work in the music business as a record producer and arranger and now teaches music in Idaho.

And along with the continued success that the two have enjoyed in their respective careers, Chad & Jeremy will forever be remembered as singers of a song that's been ingrained in the minds of everyone for more than 40 years.

A Summer Song was written by Stuart with Clive Metcalfe and Ken Noble, another duo playing the London cafe scene in the 1960s.

"They were goofing off with a four-chord guitar riff, which is basically what that song is," recalled Stuart. "I think my main contribution was the bridge. It was kind of a surprise when it became a hit. It was a stroke of good fortune, I guess."

"A Summer Song has become sort of a classic," said Clyde. "It's acoustic music, and it holds up beautifully. It was a romantic record that was a remarkable awakening for an entire generation."

"It's a very extraordinary privilege to have that," concurred Stuart. "After all, it's only a song, but it's lovely that we share it with a generation. I think it's part of the soundtrack of our lives."

This story was published on Oct. 11, 2006, in the Northeast Times in Philadelphia, which owns the copyright. It may not be reproduced anywhere else without permission.


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