Nicknamed "Klook," Clarke was a jazz and bebop drummer and bandleader who released the album Bohemia After Dark as a bandleader.
As a young man, he played with various ensembles, including the Jeter-Pillars band. He went on to be a house drummer at Minton's Playhouse in 1941.
He worked as a house drummer for Savoy Records.
He had son with Annie Ross.