Earl Clark


Featured Inductee

A Tulsa native, saxophonist Earl Clark started playing in clubs in 1968, a year before he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School.

Already a sax virtuoso when he arrived at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, he quickly mastered the difficult classical music with which Virginia Swanson, the school's legendary longtime band director, tried to challenge him.

Clark became one of Swanson's favorite students, and the late educator thought of him as a son.

"Everyone on campus knew Earl," Swanson said. "He was so popular and so talented. When Bob put on 'Hello Dolly!' one time, they had to totally stop the show because the audience was applauding Earl so loudly."

In 2009, NEO's fine arts department gave Clark its Outstanding Alumni award.

Clark, who played the saxophone and sang, counted among his chief influences the late jazz great Grover Washington.

He became well-known for a repertoire that mixed blues, rock and jazz.

And he never minded sharing the stage and the spotlight, friends say.

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