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Chad Hopes To Ride Past To New Hits

November 12, 1986|THOMAS K. ARNOLD

SAN DIEGO — Chad Stuart doesn't want to spend the rest of his life singing solid gold.

He's patiently awaiting the day when he can stop dusting off such 20-year-old Chad and Jeremy hits as "Yesterday's Gone" and "A Summer Song."

He'd like nothing better than to go on stage and perform some of the less-familiar songs he's written in the 17 years since he and Jeremy Clyde first parted ways.

But for the time being, Chad and Jeremy, along with four other recently resurrected "British Invasion" bands of the middle 1960s, are on a revival tour that's taking them to 35 cities around the country.

They'll be here Thursday night at the Bacchanal in Clairemont.

And because nostalgia is the name of the game, Stuart said, he and the other aging mop-tops in his entourage--Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Searchers, the Mindbenders, and Freddie and the Dreamers--don't really have much of a choice.

"It's a hard thing to admit, but we've realized there's really no other way back than by playing all our old songs," said Stuart, now 45. "You can't pretend you're still on top if you haven't been heard from in 20 years. That would be like asking for the rules of life to be changed to suit you.

"Sure, we'd all much rather be playing our new songs, but if we did, we wouldn't be able to find work. The audience wants to hear our old hits; that's all they have to remember us by.

"And we have only ourselves to blame for that. Our careers fell apart because we were stupid and arrogant; we could have kept right on going, but we didn't want to."

The British Invasion began with the Beatles and very quickly made overnight stars of anyone with a guitar and an English accent, Stuart said.

Between 1964 and 1966, the American pop charts were filled with cheery pop songs like "Yesterday's Gone" by Chad and Jeremy, "Ferry Cross the Mersey" by Gerry and the Pacemakers, "Needles and Pins" by the Searchers, "A Groovy Kind of Love" by the Mindbenders, and "I'm Telling You Now" by Freddie and the Dreamers.

But very quickly, Stuart said, the invasion turned into a retreat. The main reason: media hype.

"The whole British Invasion was a manufactured event," Stuart said. "It was invented by the media, and then when it began to fade, the media began snapping at it and saying it wasn't real.

"Of course it wasn't real. The English musicians who came to the United States during that time never claimed they were bringing you something new and different.

"They just happened to arrive at a time when teen-agers had it up to here with the American establishment, and crew cuts, and the Kingston Trio. The kids wanted something new, and the Beatles came up with it.

"Everyone else, including us, were never out to create some sort of movement, some sort of new sound. All we were doing was playing rock 'n' roll."

Sharing the blame with the media, Stuart said, were the British Invasion bands themselves--including Chad and Jeremy.

"By the end of the '60s, we were all suffering from battle fatigue and burn-out," Stuart said. "We were just young kids who were getting pushed around by accountants and lawyers.

"Our success went to our heads. We'd all made it very big, very fast, and we behaved like spoiled brats. We were arrogant and conceited.

"In our case, Chad and Jeremy ended when we very foolishly tore up a CBS recording contract. Our attitudes were, 'Who needs you?' Looking back, though, we never should have done that. We should have kept it up.

"But we were only kids."

After Chad and Jeremy's break-up, Stuart said, he went to work as music director for the Smothers Brothers television show while Clyde returned to England to pursue a career in acting.

Clyde became a success and even starred in several Broadway productions, while Stuart took on a variety of jobs in the American music industry, including a stint as a staff producer with A&M Records.

"But after a while, I wanted to record again, only to find it wasn't that easy anymore," Stuart said. "So I slogged around the industry, doing anything even remotely connected to my former career."

Last year, he landed a role in London in the musical "Pump Boys and Dinettes," in which his co-star was none other than Jeremy Clyde.

"One day we just sort of looked at each other and said, 'What are we doing?' " Stuart said. "Twenty years before, we had been on the charts with our own songs, and now we could only find work by doing someone else's songs.

"In the course of the show, as we wandered down the aisles, we ran into a lot of American students who recognized us. And as soon as we realized that we were gone but not forgotten, we decided to give this whole thing one more try."

Stuart said his goal right now is to land a new recording contract for Chad and Jeremy; they've already recorded a bunch of new songs, but so far they haven't been able to find a record company willing to release them.

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