Mike Clark gained worldwide recognition as one of America’s foremost jazz and funk drummers while playing with Herbie Hancock in the early seventies. His incisive playing on Hancock’s “Actual Proof” garnered him an international cult following and influenced generations of drummers. While Mike digs the funk, he consider jazz his first love, and playing that music is what he says feeds his soul.
Besides Herbie Hancock, Mike has performed and recorded with such well-known jazz greats as Christian McBride, Chet Baker, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Donald Harrison, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Vince Guaraldi, Woody Shaw, Albert King, Larry Coryell, Mike Wolff, Wallace Roney, Billy Childs, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Chris Potter, Bobby McFerrin, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., and Gil Evans and his Orchestra.
Born in Sacramento, CA, Mike traveled around the country with his father, a union man for the railroad, and a former drummer himself. His dad had a great appreciation for jazz and blues music, and Mike credits this exposure as forming the foundation for his ability to synthesize many different regional styles. He absorbed the music of America while riding the rails. From age 4, he was a prodigy, sitting in—and getting “house” —- with bands in Texas and New Orleans. By the time he reached his early twenties, he had become one of the founders of the distinctive East Bay Sound coming out of Oakland, California.
During the late sixties, Mike led his own jazz organ trio,. Then he met Hancock in 1973. With Herbie, Mike set the rhythms for the acclaimed group, The Headhunters. Afterwards, he did a two-year stint with Brand X, the British jazz/rock fusion band founded by Phil Collins. With them he recorded ”Do They Hurt?” and “Product.”
By 2000, Mike had made a foray into the popular jam band scene. His group Prescription Renewal pulled together cross-generational talents, such as Charlie Hunter, Fred Wesley, Skerik, Robert Walter, and DJ Logic, and featured special guests such as Donald Harrison, George Porter Jr. of The Meters, Les Claypool, Larry Goldings and fellow Headhunters alumni Bill Summers. He also toured with The Roots Funk All Stars.
Along with James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield, Mike's beats with The Headhunters (most notably "God Make Me Funky") include some of the most sampled in hip hop. He has been featured in Downbeat, Musician, International Musician & Recording World, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Is, and numerous jazz history and method books.