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Born in Los Angeles, California, SP Clarke has lived in and around Portland, Oregon since early childhood. Even then his attraction to music was profound. His love of rock music began with Elvis Presley, but the flames were fanned to a blaze when the Beatles and the British Invasion hit American shores in the 1960s. After teaching himself piano and guitar, he wrote his first song at age fourteen and played in his first rock band at sixteen. His involvement in the Portland music scene extends back to 1980, when he returned to the city after attending college.
Upon his return, Clarke began writing monthly music columns for several Portland-based publications, most notably for twenty years with Two Louies magazine (wherein he first penned the serialized History of Portland Rock, now available as an online resource), and for the past ten years with Buko magazine. In that time he has dedicated over two million words to the music and musicians of Portland, with more than a thousand reviews of local recordings, in addition to countless stories about the scene.
Clarke formed Walkie Talkie in 1981 and subsequently played with two popular hometown bands— Ed and the Boats in the late ‘80s and Jesus Presley from 1995 to the present. He has written or co-written several thousand songs and hundreds of instrumental pieces, including soundtracks for Lew Jones’ The Race and a Portland production of The Belle of Amherst.
In 1991, Clarke’s poetry was selected for an Alumni Award and was featured in the Silver Anniversary issue of Northwest Passage literary journal, where he has published many poems over the years. His poetry was also featured in the anthology 100 Poems, 4 Poets in 2003. Plans are in the works for publication of a comprehensive anthology of his poetry.
SP Clarke first met Billy and the Unreal Gods in the Summer of 1981 when, for their first show ever, Walkie Talkie served as the Gods’ opening act. Over the years, he came to know Billy well and developed a deep concern for the young man and his brother. In the last year of his life, Billy asked SP to tell his story someday. SP promised he would. Nearly thirty years later, SP Clarke kept that promise.