The Artist Birthday Series

Gene Clark, musician

Gene Clark_TMLippcolor

Today’s Artist Birthday: Gene Clark (November 17, 1944 – May 24, 1991): singer, songwriter

Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark was an American singer-songwriter and founding member of the folk rock band The Byrds. Clark was The Byrds’ dominant songwriter between 1964 and early 1966, penning most of the band’s best-known originals from this period, including “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, “She Don’t Care About Time”, and “Set You Free This Time”. Although he failed to achieve commercial success as a solo artist, Clark remained on the vanguard of popular music throughout his career, prefiguring developments in such disparate subgenres as psychedelic rock, baroque pop, newgrass, country rock, and alternative country.

In 1987 Clark began to develop serious health problems, aggravated by years of heavy drinking. His drinking has been attributed to have started during his time with the Byrds, as a way to alleviate his nearly paralyzing fear of flying and travel anxiety. In 1988, he underwent surgery during which much of his stomach and intestines had to be removed. A period of abstinence and recovery followed until Tom Petty’s cover of “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”, on his album Full Moon Fever (1989), yielded a huge amount of royalty money to Clark, who quickly reverted to crack cocaine and alcohol abuse. His health continued to decline as his drinking accelerated. He died of natural causes on May 24, 1991, at age 46. The coroner declared he succumbed to “natural causes” brought on by a bleeding ulcer. He was buried at Saint Andrews Cemetery in Tipton, under a simple headstone inscribed “Harold Eugene Clark – No Other.”

(Edited from:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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