Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde met at drama school in London in the early 1960s. Though they both aspired to become actors, they bonded over their love of music, particularly the Shadows’ “Apache,” which Chad could play the whole way through, suitably impressing Jeremy. As Chad taught Jeremy more guitar chords, the two formed a band called the Jerks, which eventually fell apart once Jeremy graduated and joined a repertory theatre in North Scotland. He returned a year later, however, and found his old buddy working as a music copyist. Jeremy was out of work as an actor because of a serendipitous writers’ strike, so the duo decided to give this music thing a shot. Thus, “Chad & Jeremy” was born.
Riding the initial wave of the British Invasion behind the Beatles, C&J’s sound was something of an anomaly among the other Invaders. Where groups like the Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers and Gerry and the Pacemakers skewed towards pop, C&J gravitated to what would be later dubbed “folk-rock,” with swelling string and more acoustically-based arrangements evident in hits like “A Summer Song” and “Yesterday’s Gone.” (In retrospect, differing their sound probably helped the duo achieve the longevity that many other British Invasion bands ultimately lacked.)
Chad & Jeremy quickly filled the pages of the teen mags, possibly boosted by the pair’s appearance on a 1965 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Fans were fascinated with their quick wit, English charm and Chad’s legendary specs.
Of course, with teen music mag notoriety comes the obligatory fact sheets. This one, from 16‘s April 1965 issue, clearly paints Chad as the grounded homebody, and Jeremy as the girl-chasing playboy. Chad’s then-wife, Jill, was a model and also had a regular column in 16. She also occasionally collaborated musically with the duo, and with her husband particularly.
In her “letter” to 16-readers in October, 1965, she answers questions and talks up her new favorite group, the Hollies. Aside from a few articles written “by” wives and girlfriends like Pattie Boyd (read: Derek Taylor) and later, Phyllis Nesmith (usually via Ann Moses of Tiger Beat), Jill’s column was the only one that encouraged girls not only to write to her, but also Chad & Jeremy, promising that “all letters will be answered” (see above). It’s obvious she provided valuable PR for the pair, and even had her own head featured on a few 16 cover illustrations.
Of course, we all know that the true sign of success is starring in one of 16‘s goofy “5 Errors Contests,” usually featuring a kinda-creepy line drawing and a few mismatched elements. Can you find the discrepancies between the two images below from the February 1965 issue of 16? (And, no, one of them is not Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.)
(As a side note, I don’t think any of my magazines are missing the “5 Errors Contest” entry form. I wonder how many kids actually entered it…)
Per usual, the “question and answer” articles were plentiful…
(From 16‘s Winter Spec, 1967.)
(From 16, October, 1965.)
The above article from 16‘s June, 1966, issue mentions Jeremy’s temporary departure from the group to join the cast of Passion Flower Hotel in London’s West End. In fact, at the end of 1965, C&J’s future looked pretty bleak. With Chad on bed rest after a terrible case of mono (which he talks about in the October, 1965, article) and Jeremy back in their homeland, who knew when they’d be able to record together again?
Not to mention that Jeremy vastly preferred to remain in England, and Chad loved American life. Above, Chad calls the U.S. “the land of opportunity,” while Jeremy tepidly agrees he’d like to find a way to make a home in America, only after dubbing it “somewhat frightening.”
It’s no wonder Chad was so taken by America, though. The duo had always been more popular there than in England, strangely enough. Perhaps that’s what made it so easy for Jeremy to quickly gain footing as an actor, without the burden of rock stardom, and what made him so keen to spend most of his time there.
Chad & Jeremy’s geographical and musical split was alarming to some fans, and possibly a bit of a nightmare for their publicist (also Derek Taylor). Not to worry — a super huge headline in Hit Parader‘s October 1966 issue set the record straight!
Possibly to quell those annoying breakup rumors of the previous year (which, honestly, were more fact than rumor), C&J put it ’round that they were full-on ready to make an American comeback with a new LP, Distant Shores. Chad mentions their inital foray onto the small screen on the short-lived Western series Laredo, which he calls their “first flop.” And, unfortunately, their never-materialized TV series was passed over in favor of another little-known show called The Monkees.
C&J gleaned much of its character from the snarky (yet friendly) little digs Chad and Jeremy took at each other during interviews and articles — not unlike the proverbial “old married couple.” The below article from Flip‘s December 1966 finds Chad not-so-subtly hiding his true feelings under a veil of concern.
Why does he worry about Jeremy? tl;dr – Because he knows Jeremy’s heart lies in acting, while his is in music. He worries that Jeremy’s “actor and would-be actor” friends will steal him away and the duo will be no more. BUT! Not to worry because their new TV series will combine both music and acting and — oh wait. Never mind.
C&J did, as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, evolve during the ’60s and, in fact, produced some of their best work as the decade wore on. (In my opinion, anyway.) They embraced a more artistic perspective, with arrangements befitting the psychedelic era and beyond. In February, 1967, when Chad spoke with Hit Parader editor Jim Delehant, the duo was standing at the precipice of completely revamping its image.
(Note Delehant’s jab at other magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat that sometimes relied on superficial questions and/or generic press releases for content.)
In this interview, Chad discusses British films, “Suzy Creamcheese,” the “anti-tradition” movement, and his marriage. You’ll notice that the future of the group doesn’t come up at all, and Jeremy is only mentioned a few times. In a period where probably everyone was buggin’ C&J about what the heck was going on with them, this must have been a sweet relief for Chad.
The next month, Delehant’s chat with Chad concluded.
Still void of any group talk, Chad does offer interesting observations on the LA scene, money (Delehant suggests that Chad could live off the interest of $50,000 and Chad agrees that he’ll “work until he’s got that”), and why programs like Shindig! and Hullabaloo failed. Again, sparse mentions of Jeremy and no hopeful hints for C&J’s future, besides the addition of the Distant Shores album title to the article’s introduction.
Any readers unfamiliar with the Chad & Jeremy story would probably assume the two called it quits, Jeremy returning to England to act full-time and Chad permanently planting himself in America to pursue music.
The funny thing is, those readers would only be half-right.
At the end of the ’60s, the duo did part ways officially. Jeremy Clyde is, was, and forever will be known as a brilliant actor in England with a laundry list of extraordinary credits. Chad Stuart did stick with the music business, performing solo, and eventually establishing himself as a partner in a company that produced radio commercials. Save for a brief reunion in the ’80s, which produced a new album and tour, the pair largely stayed separated, each pursuing his own interests.
But, as the new millennium dawned, new technology and rekindling of old friendships once again fired up the Chad & Jeremy partnership. The Internet made it easier to communicate, record, and collaborate together once again. And since 2004, the duo has toured nearly every spring and fall; Chad leaving his home in Idaho, and Jeremy commuting from London.
Next month, Chad & Jeremy will be featured on the 50th Anniversary British Invasion tour along with Denny Laine, Billy J Kramer, Mike Pender’s Searchers, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Despite the distance and different visions, the duo still continues to roll on, decades after many other acts would call it a day.
Just goes to show that, unlike a trip down a sliding board, musical adventures don’t have to be painfully short.
(That last line makes so much more sense now, doesn’t it?)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Stay tuned next week for an EXCLUSIVE interview with Jeremy Clyde, in which he discusses the upcoming tour, his songwriting career, and his pet squirrels. (How closely were you reading the articles above? There will be a quiz!)
(Final image from Flip, January, 1967. Cover pin-up from 16, July, 1965.)