Sunday, February 20, 2022

Sammy Clark passes away - a Golden Age in review.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on Sammy Clark album covers

Sammy Clark, the memory of a full generation passes away. Clark who had his heyday in the late 70s and early 80s spawned a very prolific career which saw his spawn several hits which were easily inscribed in the memory of a full generation. Songs such as Oumi ta nor2os, or Ah 3ala hal iyyam, or Take me with you (which was a mix of Arabo-International) or the theme song from Liman toughani al touyour gave Clark his most enduring hits, but also - Clark was the voice behind the theme songs of Grendizer, Jazirat al Kanz, or Al Ja2iza Al Kobra which in themselves were inscribed in the head of a (slightly younger) generation as well.

As a matter of act Clark was experiencing some sort of a renaissance with the Golden Age (along with Le Petit Prince and Abdo Mounzer. Below am republishing my summing up of their concert during the Ramadinyat extravaganza in 2015. As I reread the article it does seem I am a bit harsh but trust me, seeing Clark on stage turning on the kitsch factor to 11 was sight to behold. May he rest in peace.

Originally published July 2, 2015:
The Golden Age, the trio formed by Abdo Mounzer, Sammy Clark and Petit Prince took the stage yesterday during the public opening of Ramadaniyat Beirutiya. To be fair and even-handed the first part of the concert, which consisted of international hits such as "geant to papier" "Delila" or "Esmeralda" left the audiences a bit lukewarm. Surely, for three old geezers, their voices were pseudo-intact, clad in black uniforms and blue jackets (that was a touch they could have avoided), they were humble enough to sing backing vocals when someone else was taking center stage, had a lot of camaraderie (or stage persona) and basically knew what they were doing up there. After the international hits part, came two classics from the Rehbani repertoire, the audience was still polite at that stage.
But move to the first notes of Sammy Clark's "Ah 3ala hal iyyam" and suddenly the house burned down. This, is what the audience, came for. A rendering of cheesy 80s classics straight from the mouth of the people who did them. The three of them showed incomparable showmanship. Petit Prince would be able to sing a high note all while taking a selfie with a fan. They amped up the kitsch factor with things respectable gentlemen of their age should not be doing - some stage acting, crowd-pleasing moves, auto-encores. Thankfully, Clark told the guy behind the synthesizers to tone down the sound a bit as it was drowning their own voices.
The highlight of the concert, was Mounzer belting out an endearing performance of "3achra hda3ch tna3ch" (10, 11, 12) in which the other two cheered him along and playfully told him to repeat the best bits to the delight of the audience. But as soon as Mounzer stopped, Clark went on with the theme song from Grendizer leading a breathless audience in high-fist-up-in-the-air bravado which everyone obliged.
Having the two songs back to back brought the attendees into a frantic response which even when Petit Prince was left alone on stage as the other two took a small break was not dampered down, going on with some more Arabic classics and finishing up with "Raje3 yet3ammar Loubnan" for the finale.
People if you have not seen Sammy Clark, who by now is wearing a spare tire around his tummy, do a pirouette and high five mounzer as Petit Prince smiled nearby, all while singing the Grendizer theme song then trust me, your life is not complete!