Wednesday, January 4, 2006

British pop duo reunite in Hailey

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde perform for New Orleans

Express Staff Writer

Chad coerced his old pal Jeremy onto the Liberty stage for the charity concert. Photo by David N. Seelig

Chad and Jeremy perform at the Liberty

Chad and Jeremy in concert at the Liberty Theatre, in Hailey, at 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Jan. 5 and 6. Tickets ($25) can be purchased at all three Atkinsons' Markets.

"The idea is we should annually be tithing to Habitat for Humanity. A bunch of people can buy a $25 ticket and together make a substantial donation. It's the sum of its parts." -Chad Stuart, Musician

The 1960s are back again. This time the decade of flower power and psychedelics has grown up in the form of the once-hit-making duo Chad and Jeremy.

"The '60s were a long time ago, let's call a spade a spade," Chad Stuart said recently. "Our friends and fans have grown up just as we did."

Because the musical partners were planning on spending the holidays in Idaho together anyway, Stuart coerced his old friend to play at the Liberty Theater in Hailey. "I said, 'Come on, Jeremy, just chill dude,'" he quipped. Their two nights of music will benefit Habitat for Humanity in its efforts to help rebuild hurricane-stricken areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Chad Stuart, a Hailey resident, and Jeremy Clyde go way back. They became "mates" while in school together at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London, in their native England. They formed their first group, the Jerks, in 1962.

The duo's first single, "Yesterday's Gone," was their only real British hit but in the United States their sensitive, strings-backed sound went over well. Their second single, "A Summer Song," hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Follow-ups "Willow Weep For Me" and "Before and After" reached the top 20. Together Chad and Jeremy had seven U.S. top 40 hits during 1964-1966.

In 1964, William Morris agent John Hartman signed the duo who were performing in London and proceeded to book them on comedy shows and sit-coms. Hartman, elder brother of the late comic Phil Hartman, went on to manage such bands as Poco, America and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Eventually, Chad and Jeremy were featured on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Patty Duke Show," "The Andy Williams Show," "The Danny Kaye Show," "Laredo," "Hullabaloo" and "Batman."

The twosome went their separate ways in the late 1960s.

Eventually Stuart, who worked as an arranger and record producer in Los Angeles, became a permanent resident of the United States. Clyde, whose first love was the theater, has spent much of the past four decades acting in films, theater and television. In the 1980s they teamed up again, with another album and starring roles in the British version of the Broadway hit "Pump Boys & Dinettes." And now and then they reunited to play live sets. After doing a PBS show in 2003, Stuart said the audience reaction validated them.

"We've lived our individual lives—for more years than I care to admit—and have our own identities, as opposed to the two unsure youngsters barely out of their teens who had the spotlight suddenly thrust upon them," Stuart said. "Back then we were two characters in search of an identity. Somehow we found integrity along the way. You can feel proud when you get positive feedback."

Stuart, who teaches music in the valley and performs occasionally for a good cause, said getting back together as a duo has come slowly.

"It's an interesting challenge," Stuart said. "Jeremy writes way more that I do. He found a lyricist and he's rather good at it. My epiphany came on a makeshift stage at a college in the Midwest. Between power failures, and hoping and praying the power would come back on, we sat on the edge of the stage and played. I did a little dance and fell through a riser, the piano just followed me down like the Titanic."

Not surprisingly, there are tales to tell from the years in swinging London, hanging around other emerging talents and the TV-crazed Hollywood of the 1960s and 1970s.

"I realized I had to make people laugh with ad-libs and stories. Everyone has fun. We wander back. It's as though people are in our living room. Musically, (for the concert), we've got a mini-back log of chestnuts and you've got to apply the new stuff sparingly. My other job is to nudge us."

Though Clyde and Stuart have no special connection with New Orleans and the South, "I feel strongly that if there's going to be anything that's ongoing for years it's the rebuilding," Stuart said. "The idea is we should annually be tithing to Habitat for Humanity. A bunch of people can buy a $25 ticket and together make a substantial donation. It's the sum of its parts."

The duo's CDs and a poster will be for sale for the cause at the concert as well.

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