Orang-Utan | Interview | Mick Clarke

Uncategorized July 23, 2011

Orang-Utan | Interview | Mick Clarke

Originally known as “Hunter,” this London-based group released their debut on Bell Records in 1971 under the name of Orang-Utan.

Their only album was originally released in the U.S. exclusively. Orang Utan featured musicians from several other notable dissolving bands that had been playing in north London in the late 60s. Singer Terry “Nobby” Clarke was co-founder of the band Jason Crest. They recorded their album at a 16 track studio facility in London. The band’s only album was released on the U.S. Bell Records label in 1970. Most of the music was written and composed by Jeff Seopardie who was the drummer, with the majority of the guitar and bass riffs being developed and played by Mick Clarke, Paul Roberts respectively.

Members were Terry “Nobby” Clark (vocals), Mick Clarke (guitar), Sid Fairman (guitar), Paul Roberts (bass), Jeff Seopardie (drums)

Mick Clarke

Who were your major influences?

Mick Clarke: My earliest influences were the rock ‘n’ roll pioneers: Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers and many other artists of that period. Then I heard Howlin’ Wolf and realized I liked the blues a lot more than rock ‘n’ roll!

What bands were you a member of prior to the formation of Orang-Utan?

The first album I ever recorded was the Orang-Utan album. It was a first for all of us! We had all been in various unknown bands before that of course, but this was our first serious effort.

Mick Clarke with the Freddie Mac Band, The Marquee Club (circa 1969)

Can you elaborate on the formation of Orang-Utan?

I had heard about a band needing a guitarist from a friend of mine and found the band rehearsing in a pub in North London. I can’t remember how we hooked up, but we got together and it sounded great so we were on our way.

Mick Clarke (1971)

Tell us about your 1971 album.

We had a manager that bought us some professional level equipment, amps and such, and we were playing shows around London fairly regularly. Our manager somehow found the producer, Adrian Miller. Next thing we knew, we were in the studio recording the album. We did it all in one afternoon! We were never even told that it had been released in the USA! We found out by accident. I have no knowledge of how many were sold, but we never received one penny! We are currently working on an official re-release of the album that will be sanctioned by us, the band! It will contain all the stories and photos of the members, and what we’re all doing today.

What can you tell me about the cover artwork?

The cover art was designed and the name was made up by Miller. We had no real say in it, we were completely left out of the loop.

Chuck Berry and Mick Clarke (1973) | Photographer Unknown

Did the band do any touring?

We did lots of shows, mainly around London, the center for rock clubs in the south of England. We played on the same bill as bands like Genesis, Mott the Hoople et cetera. We took it all for granted!

Mick Clarke with the Roy Young Band (circa 1973)

What happened next?

After the band heard about the album being released without our knowledge, we were very disillusioned with the business, and the band broke up. I joined the Roy Young Band, and never looked back. I ended up playing all over the world with various bands, including the late Long John Baldry, and played on his gold album, ‘Baldry’s Out’.

Long John Baldry in Vancouver (1979) | L-R: Mick Clarke, Long John Baldry, Jeff Seitz, Kathi McDonald, Karl Rucker | Photo Courtesy: Jeff Seitz

The drummer and principal songwriter, Jeffrey Jai Seopardi, went on to a career with many different bands and had a hit record with ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Sid Fairman, the other guitarist, went into the business world and became very successful, as did Paul Roberts, the bass player. Terry “Nobby” Clarke, the singer, went onto several other bands, and we played together again in the middle ‘70s with a band called Holy Mackerel. In the later ‘70s I moved to the USA to tour with Hudson-Ford, and ended up staying here!

Klemen Breznikar

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice interview!! Mick has become a good friend, and is a wonderful guitarist, and a consummate professional. Always love performing with him.

  2. Mike Floyd says:

    A good read, intersting to read about this hardly known British band and to learn about the circumstances that the album was released in the US. Very good album that I enjoy quite a lot.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *