Educated at Brighton College, Clarke ran away from home at the age of 16 after his parents split up. After sleeping rough for a while, a friend offered him temporary accommodation. All that kept him going was his love for music, initially Hip Hop and post-punk (The Damned are a favourite of his to this day). He soon managed to blag himself a DJ set at Brighton club Toppers. The night became very successful and even worried a rival night, in which a young John Digweed held residency.From then on Clarke gained popularity, getting club invites from round the world playing his blend of funky peaktime rave-techno.
In the 1990s he began producing and releasing music using the monicker Hardcore. In 1993 he dropped this name and just became Dave Clarke. Recognition of his talent came in 1994 when a series of EPs with the collective name of 'Red' and his début album 'Archive one' received rave reviews, as they were seen as being innovative and crossing genres, something not common in the Techno scene at the time. After the success of the 'Red'-series John Peel gave Clarke his well known monicker The Baron of Techno, which stuck with him ever since.
His sense of rhythm and DJ skills have earned him more respect than most producers. He has a longstanding relationship with visceral, intense Techno, and is considered one of the innovators of the genre. He's an especially big fan of the minimal Detroit Techno sound, focusing on mechanical pulse and underlying Funk. Clarke has continued to remain popular, due to his DJ style of endlessly cutting and scratching during his predominantly funky, dark, electro-inspired Techno sets (although he sometimes plays purely electro sets). Clarke's style is both sinister and energizing, and his live sets are rarely a disappointment. This style is evident on his latest two mix CD's World Service 1 and 2. His album The Devils Advocate released in 2004 is a mixture of dark Techno, and hip hop featuring Chicks on Speed and DJ Rush. He also made a relatively experimental John Peel Sessions EP, known as "Directional Force".
In the song Teachers by French duo Daft Punk, Dave Clarke is one of the many DJs mentioned.
His latest album, Remixes & Rarities, was awarded the title Album of the Month by Mixmag in February 2007.
"Music has always brought me through, even in times when I've had nothing. Music has given me everything and I feel I have to give everything back. I don't know what I'd do without it, it's in my blood and bones, the only constant throughout the whole of my life." 
Since the beginning of September 2006, Clarke has been hosting his own radioshow on VPRO , called 'White Noise'.
In May 2008 there are three concerts programmed in the Netherlands where Clarke will be playing with the Holland Symfonia orchestra. Starting from the track "Rhapsody In Red" from his legendary Archive-One CD, he will produce some more tracks in this genre to play together with the orchestra.