While often referred to as the “Tony Williams of funk”, Mike considers himself a jazz drummer, and in fact has become one of the most vital to sit behind a set. He's performed with jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Vince Guaraldi, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Eddie Henderson, Rob Dixon, Bobby Hutcherson, Woody Shaw, Donald Harrison, Larry Coryell, Jack Wilkins, Mike Wolff, Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Billy Childs, James Genus, Bob Hurst, Chris Potter, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Dave Liebman, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., Bill Doggett, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Mose Allison, Maxine Brown, Gil Evans and his orchestra and many illuminating etceteras too numerous to list.
Born in Sacramento, CA, while growing up Mike had the benefit of traveling around the country with his father, a union man for the railroad. He was also a drummer at one time and had a keen ear, a killing record collection, and a great appreciation for music. This allowed the younger Clark to soak up the diverse regional music of the United States, which he credits as providing an invaluable education. Clark was a prodigy as well, picking up his first sticks at the tender age of five and sitting in--and getting “house” --with bands in Texas and New Orleans when he was as young as 7 and 8.
He continued to play in a variety of blues, R&B, organ trios, and jazz bands, settling in Oakland, CA, until his introduction to Herbie Hancock and his recruitment into the Headhunters in 1973.
Next to James Brown's drummer Clyde Stubblefield, Mike's beats with The Headhunters (most notably on "God Make Me Funky") are some of the most sampled in hip hop. Featured in Downbeat, Musician, International Musician & Recording World, Modern Drummer, Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Jazz Is and numerous jazz history and method books, Mike is a former faculty member of Drummers Collective, and is a popular and busy clinician around the country. His book Funk Drumming: Innovative Grooves & Advanced Concepts was published last year by Hal Leonard and is a best seller.
A true original, Mike’s work continues to delight and astound his fans around the world.