Originally trained as a classical pianist, Dave”Clem” Clempson first became known in 1968 around the British Rock scene as the gutarist and vocalist for the blues/rock power trio Bakerloo. He then moved on to Colosseum, known for its jazz-influenced nuances, where Clem continued to build on his vituosity.
Upon Peter Frampton’s departure from Humble Pie in 1971, “People in the Humble Pie camp thought I’d be a good replacement for him.” Clem said in a recent interview with Humble-Pie.net. So the call was made to Steve Marriott and although he was unknown to the band’s leader, it took only a quick review of a Colosseum record for Clem to be extended an invitation to join the band. “It was all a bit of a whirlwind,” Clem continued, “Marriott...was THE singer I had wanted to work with for years.”
Clem fit perfectly into the new direction Pie was taking at the time, and the harder-edged sound of the band continued to develop. His arrival was soon followed with the release of Pie’s multi-platinum album “Smokin”, along with the extensive tour schedules that the group would maintain over the next few years. Relating his personal highlights while with Humble Pie, Clem said, “Playing live was what the band was all about and it was a big thrill everytime we did it.”
Even while more undertones of soul and blues were emerging in Humble Pie’s sound, Clem was personally expanding into other areas as well, as he relates, “Steve turned me onto (acoustic phenom) Leo Kotke and I said ‘that’s fantastic!’. So I spent the next six months playing twelve-string acoustic.”
After the break up of Humble in 1975 he and Greg Ridley joined with drummer Cozy Powell to form Strange Brew. Although he played in Marriott’s All Stars, he opted not to join the reformed Humble Pie in 1980.
Clem’s versatility as a guitarist helped build his reputation as one of Rock’s best, as he’s been in demand by many of the genre’s builders. Luminaries the likes of Jack Bruce, Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, Elton John, Rod Argent and Jon Anderson have relied on Clem’s talents both on stage and in the studio.
His credits extend into scores for many recent films as well, most notably Evita, GI Jane, Lawn Dogs, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Clem was also called upon by Oscar-winning composer Trevor Jones for arrangements for the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill. Asked if he had to switch gears for the job, Clem said “It just came kind of naturally, it’s what I do.”