A soloist in John Philip Sousa's Band and who was the founder of his own group called Clarke's Band of Providence.
After watching a performance by the American Band of Providence, he switched from violin to trumpet and played with the Queen's Own Rifle band to get his own cornet on which to practice.
He worked for Conn Instruments in Indiana, testing and developing instruments.
He married Elizabeth Loudon in 1889 and raised a son and daughter with her; they divorced and remarried. He and his second wife, Lillian Bell Hause, raised a son and daughter together as well.
Both he and Sally Rand have performed at the Chicago World's Fair.