Dave and Sugar were one of the most popular vocal groups in country music from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. Lead singer Dave Rowland was the group's one constant, while the two females comprising Sugar were subject to frequent change. Rowland was the son of a minister who began his career singing with a dance band. He was drafted in the mid-'60s and became a trumpet player with an Army band, and also formed his own group while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In 1970, Rowland graduated from the Stamps Music School in Texas and then headed for Nashville, where he joined the Stamps Quartet. In 1974 he left the Stamps to join the more country-oriented Four Guys, singing behind Charley Pride and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. After leaving the group, he worked as a singing waiter at Papa Leone's in Nashville, later forming a country-rock band, Wild Oates. When Rowland learned that Pride and Tammy Wynette were looking for backup groups, he formed the first incarnation of Sugar with Jackie Frantz and Vicki Hackeman. It was Pride who helped Dave & Sugar sign to RCA in 1975; that year the trio released their first single, the Shel Silverstein-penned "Queen of the Silver Dollar," and had a Top 25 hit.
Over the next few years, the threesome had many hits, including "I'm Gonna Love You," "That's the Way Love Should Be," and "I'm Knee Deep in Loving You." In 1977, Frantz tired of touring and was replaced by Sue Powell; the following year, Hackeman was replaced by Melissa Dean, and Dave & Sugar had their first number one hit, "Tear Time." They had their second number one with "Golden Tears" in 1979; after touring with Kenny Rogers in 1980, a regular succession of personnel turnovers began. Dave and Sugar's last bit of chart success came in 1981 with two Top 40 hits, including "It's a Heartache," and the Top Ten hit "Fool By Your Side." Later, Rowland's label Elektra talked him into recording the solo album Sugar Free, which produced two unsuccessful singles. He then reunited with Dean and Powell without much success, so he created a new Sugar with Cindy Smith and Lisa Alvey. The latest Sugar lineup included Regina Leigh and Lori Mason. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi