Mike Clark, co-owner and manager of Southern Tracks Recording (Atlanta), died on February 1, 2007, after an eight-month battle with cancer. Clark was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and is scheduled, posthumously, to become a 2007 Recording Academy Honors Award recipient.
Clark’s affinity for all things music began in fifth grade, when he played drums as part of his school’s band. In high school, classmate Tommy Roe and Clark formed their combo, Tommy Roe and The Satins. In 1958, their single “I Got a Girl” was recorded at music publisher Bill Lowery’s studio, which at that time was an old schoolhouse equipped with a Gates Radio console and a 2-track tape deck. Lowery pitched Roe’s song to Judd Phillips (brother of Sam Phillips), and it became a regional hit for Memphis label Judd Records.
After graduation, Clark toured with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, which featured headliner Sam Cooke, The Drifters, Little Eva and other top R&B acts. Back in Atlanta, the drummer was in demand for many sessions, as well as being billed at top clubs — all the while still touring with the likes of Roy Orbison and Ray Stevens. In 1966, Lowery asked Clark to work at the Lowery Music Company, where he was soon promoted to national director of promotion; at night, Clark was still behind the skins. Soon, Clark was producing records and, in 1979, managing the old schoolhouse studio. When Atlanta’s rapid transit system, MARTA, acquired the old schoolhouse property in 1983, Clark and Lowery picked up and moved to the current northeast Atlanta site, now named Southern Tracks Recording.