David Ashworth Gates (born December 11, 1940) is an American singer-songwriter, best known as the lead singer of the group Bread, which reached the tops of the musical charts in Europe and North America on several occasions in the 1970s. The band was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Life and early career:
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gates was surrounded by music from infancy, as the son of a band director and a piano teacher. He became proficient in piano, bass and guitar by the time he enrolled in Tulsa's Will Rogers High School. Gates joined local bands around Tulsa. During a concert in 1957, his high school band backed Chuck Berry. Later, Gates released his first local hit single, "Jo-Baby," a song he had written for his sweetheart, Jo Rita, whom he married in 1958 while enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. At Oklahoma he became a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.
In 1961, he and his family moved to Los Angeles, where Gates continued writing songs, and he worked as a music copyist, as a studio musician, and as a producer for many artists - including Pat Boone. Success soon followed. His composition "Popsicles and Icicles" hit No. 3 on the US Hot 100 for The Murmaids in January 1964. The Monkees recorded another of his songs, "Saturday's Child". By the end of the 1960s, he had worked with many leading artists, including Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Merle Haggard, Duane Eddy and Brian Wilson. In 1965, Gates arranged the Glenn Yarbrough hit, "Baby the Rain Must Fall". In 1966, he produced two singles on A&M Records for Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band which were hits in the Los Angeles area.
In the meantime, Gates had been releasing singles of his own on several labels in the early 1960s. On Mala Records, he released "Manchester 101", "There's a Heaven/She Don't Cry", "You'll Be My Baby/What's This I Hear", "The Happiest Man Alive/A Road That Leads to Love," and "Jo Baby/Teardrops in My Heart". On Planetary, he released "Little Miss Stuck Up/The Brighter Side," and "Let You Go/Once upon a Time" under the Pseudonym of "Del Asley" in 1965. On Del-Fi, he released "No One Really Loves a Clown/You Had It Comin' to Ya". He also released a single under the name of "The Manchesters" in 1965 on the Vee-Jay Label.
Bread and fame:
In 1967, Gates produced and arranged the debut album of a band called The Pleasure Fair, of which Robb Royer was a member. A little over a year later, Gates and Royer got together with Jimmy Griffin to form Bread. The group was signed by Elektra, where it would remain for the eight years of its existence. It released its first album, Bread, in 1969, which peaked at No. 127 on the Billboard 200. The first single, "Dismal Day", written by Gates, was released in June 1969 but did not sell well.
Bread's second album, On the Waters (a play on Ecclesiastes 11:1), with a new drummer, Mike Botts, was released in 1970, and became a breakout success. It contained the No. 1 single "Make It with You" and was the first of seven consecutive Bread albums to go Gold in the U.S. Bread's next three albums, Manna (1971), Baby I'm-a Want You (1972) (featuring Larry Knechtel as a new member of the band, replacing Royer) and Guitar Man (1972) were also successful, with more chart singles and gold records. From 1970 to 1973, Bread charted 11 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, all of which were written and sung by Gates. That caused some antagonism between Gates and Griffin, who was also a significant contributor to Bread's albums as a singer and songwriter. Bread disbanded in 1973, much to the surprise of fans and the music industry. Their last concert was performed at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Gates recorded and produced his solo album First in 1973. The single "Clouds", an edited version of the album track "Suite Clouds and Rain," peaked at No. 47 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, and No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The full album version was played extensively by Radio Caroline presenter Samantha Dubois at the end of her early morning radio programme, and became her closing theme. A second single, "Sail Around the World", reached No. 50 on the singles chart and No. 11 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album reached No. 107 on Billboard's album chart. In 1975, Gates released the album Never Let Her Go. The title track was released as a single, and reached No. 29 on the Hot 100 chart and No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album itself reached No. 102 on the Billboard 200.
Bread reunited in 1976 for one album, Lost Without Your Love, released late that year. The title track--again written and sung by Gates--reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bread then disbanded again, and at the end of 1977, Gates released what would be his most successful single as a solo artist, "The Goodbye Girl", from the 1977 film of the same name. It peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. To capitalize on that success, Gates put an album together in 1978 that featured material from his first two solo albums mixed with some new material. It yielded another hit single, "Took the Last Train", which reached No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 but the album itself made it only to No. 165 on the Billboard 200. Botts and Knechtel from Bread, along with Warren Ham and his brother Bill Ham and their band, continued to record and tour with Gates. On one tour they were billed as "David Gates & Bread", which brought a lawsuit from Griffin, and an injunction against the use of the name Bread. The dispute was resolved in 1984.
Gates released the albums Falling in Love Again (featuring "Where Does the Loving Go"), which peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, and Take Me Now, which peaked at No. 62, in 1981. He recorded a duet with Melissa Manchester, "Wish We Were Heroes", included in her 1982 album Hey Ricky. Gates was less active in music during the remainder of the 1980s. He concentrated on operating a cattle ranch in Northern California, located on land he purchased in the 1970s. He returned to music in 1994, when he released Love Is Always Seventeen, his first new album in thirteen years.
Gates and Griffin put aside their differences, and reunited for a final Bread tour in 1996-97 with Botts and Knechtel. With the deaths of three of the other principal members of Bread, Gates is the sole surviving band member from their heyday, although Royer still successfully works in Nashville.
The David Gates Songbook, containing earlier hit singles and new material, was released in 2002. Engelbert Humperdinck included "Baby I'm-a Want You" on his 1972 album In Time and "If" on his 2003 album Definition of Love. Frank Sinatra covered "If" in a live performance at Madison Square Garden on October 12, 1974 which was recorded by Rhino Records. Gates's songs have been recorded by many artists, including Telly Savalas, who had a UK No. 1 hit with "If" in 1975; Vesta Williams, who made a rendition of "Make It with You" in 1988; the band CAKE, which covered "The Guitar Man" in 2004; Ray Parker Jr, who also recorded "The Guitar Man" in 2006; and Boy George, who took "Everything I Own" to No. 1 on the UK chart, when he covered the Ken Boothe reggae version of Gates's song, which itself had been a UK No. 1 in 1974. Jack Jones recorded a Bread tribute album, Bread Winners (1972) including the Gates' standard, "If", which has long been a staple of Jones' live performances.
According to a 1996 article in People, Gates has remained married to high school sweetheart Jo Rita since 1958. Together they raised four children: three lawyers and a cardiac surgeon. Gates, who studied the cattle ranching business while touring with Bread, purchased a 1,400 acre cattle ranch financed by royalties he earned during his time with the group.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license