David Gates

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on December 11, 1940, David Gates has surely triumphed in life’s lottery of those whose music can be said to have formed the soundtrack to the lives of a generation. But if fame is an elusive goal for anyone to aim for it must, at the very least, have come as no surprise to those who knew him as a child that David opted to give music his best shot.

‘I was in a musical family,’ he admits, with an understatement typical of both his conversation and his work, ‘the last of four children. My dad was a musician, my mom was also a musician. I learned to play a lot of classical tunes and then, of course, I was influenced by all the early rock’n’rollers, like everybody else. Really, Chuck Berry started the whole thing! He was such a fabulous songwriter, and of course also played lead guitar. I decided early on that I’d rather write songs than spend time practising the guitar. I never was that good at lead guitar!’

In 1958, a few months after David’s High School group had backed none other than Mr. Berry himself at a local concert, he wrote, recorded and self-released his first song, ‘Jo Baby’. Quite an achievement in those days when recording was a black art, it was a paean to a young lady whose heart was, it seemed, destined for another. At the very least, a gallant gesture: ‘It was - and it really worked out great!’ says David. ‘It became an overnight local hit and, of course, everyone in school knew who it was written for. The final straw came when she was at a dance with her old boyfriend and someone put on ‘Jo-Baby’. What a moment! He soon gave up.’

David and Jo-Rita were soon married, and have remained together ever since. The following year, 1959, David enrolled at the University Of Oklahoma, majoring in English. Within a couple of years the newlyweds had two children and yet, notwithstanding the weight of his responsibilities and his half-finished degree course, David felt that his true path lay in music. With $200 to his name and his young family in tow David left for Los Angeles in late ’61.

‘I ran into some good people pretty quick,’ says David, ‘and got to work on recordings doing some arrangements, writing a few songs, playing piano and so on. I could do a lot of different things to make a living! My father always said, ‘You can do music as a hobby, but it is hard to make a living at it.’ I made a deal with my dad that if I didn’t make progress in the business within two years I would return and finish college.’ Needless to say, David never did get that degree.

Shortly before his father passed away, toward the end of that two year period, David had scored a national No. 3 US pop hit with his song ‘Popsicles And Icicles’, recorded by The Murmaids. The prolific and varied work that David accomplished in the years before Bread formed in 1968 included a Phil Spector session, a Brian Wilson session, arrangements for Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley (‘some film I can’t remember ’) and, not least, for Glenn Yarborough’s 1965 Grammy-nominated film theme and US Top 10 hit ‘Baby The Rain Must Fall’. ‘I’ve pushed strings on everybody,’ he admits. ‘They add a quality of warmth… A bowed instrument does something and when four bowed instruments all play the same note it creates a warmth within the note. Nothing else can do it.’ He also produced for various artists, from Pat Boone to Captain Beefheart: ‘Yeah, that was really different,’ says David, with typical understatement. ‘I did four sides - and actually wrote one, for which I still get a few royalties. But not much!’

If the Beefheart session was clocking up a little future credibility, bread on the table was more likely to come from placing a song with TV pop sensation The Monkees. Neil Diamond, Carole King – they were all at it: ‘Matter of fact I wrote a song specifically for them – ‘Saturday’s Child’,’ says David. ‘It went on their first album, which sold three million copies. It was almost their first single. Still, it helped pay a few bills…’

The Bread Era

Originally conceived as a harmony-based pop/rock group, with an emphasis on quirky, three-minute songwriting in Beatle-esque vein – an alternative to the lengthy indulgences of the West Coast acid rock acts of the time – Bread began life as a trio. David Gates and James Griffin, the two cornerstones of the new group, met during 1967 album sessions for Robb Royer’s group Pleasure Faire. Tiring of the session scene they were both involved in and looking for a creative outlet, Gates and Griffin, with Royer now on board as Griffin’s writing partner, embarked on their own project: seeing a bread van drive by as they were pondering a name for their new outfit. The rest is history.

Like the Beatles, Bread contained not one but three gifted songwriters, all looking for their share of space on the vinyl. Albums were to be pretty fairly divided but – after their 1970 breakthrough with the Gates-penned smash hit ‘Make It With You’ - all of Bread’s singles, and all of their biggest hits, were destined to be David Gates songs: ‘The record label had this committee, where they’d get all these people together to hear the songs - I had some input, as had James and as had the management. But it was just whichever was the best song at the time that was chosen as the single’

In the subsequent ‘battle’ for whose songs became singles, James Griffin, essentially responsible for the group’s raunchier material, tended to lose out – a situation that would eventually contribute, along with simple burn-out, to Bread’s demise in 1973. But, as Gates has wisely observed: ‘Ultimately, ‘soft rock’ was what we did best, and you can’t really argue with success.’

The epic ‘Guitar Man’ single, though not their last, provided a fitting swansong. ‘With ‘The Guitar Man’ I didn’t want to have any particular person in mind. It was supposed to be about many, many people who’ve been involved in that situation - of just wanting to keep reaching out and touching people with their music. Somebody did come up to me at the time and said it sounded like Bread’s swansong. ‘No,’ I said, ‘it’s just about this guy who can’t quit, doesn’t care how many people come along, he just loves to play.’ I guess it was on the last album - but it had no reference to us whatsoever!’

The Solo Years, Retirement and Return

Interrupted by the 1976-77 Bread reunion album and tour – undertaken as a gesture toward Elektra, and yielding the US Top 10 and UK Top 30 hit single ‘Lost Without Your Love’ - David enjoyed a respectable five album solo career spanning 1973 – 1981. It was a run that yielded eight US hit singles and two UK chart placings. Five songs from this period feature on The David Gates Songbook. Effectively retiring from active involvement in the music business after his 1981 album Take Me Now, David became a full-time rancher in Northern California. Just as he had done in ’61, he and Jo-Rita plus two kids (not the same two - the most recent of their four, this time!) upped stakes and moved, with only a couple of ‘how-to’ books and the determination to make it work, to the 3,500 acres of land David had bought in the mid-seventies. This time, though, they had a little more than $200 in the bank…

‘I figured that getting away from music might recharge me,’ says David. ‘I’d done it for so long I felt a layoff would be healthy. I’d gone off to do this rancher/cowboy thing that I’d wanted to do since I was a kid. I did an awful lot of working with the livestock, baling hay, feeding cattle in the winter in the snow – all of those visions of the Old West you see! And, I have to tell you, the lifestyle, being close to nature was just a fabulous experience – I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But after a while you begin to feel the hunger. You hear things on the radio and you think, ‘I wonder if I could write something as good as that?’’ Gates had nothing to prove to the world – only to himself. During David’s ranching ‘retirement’ Julio Iglesias had enjoyed a huge international hit (albeit not in Britain) with ‘If’ while Boy George had, once again, taken ‘Everything I Own’ to the UK No 1 spot.

‘To begin writing songs again I’d need an outlet for the songs,’ says David. ‘I tried showing my songs to other artists but I kept running into situations where people would go, ‘Well, why don’t you go do it yourself?’ After a while I ran into Jac Holzman who’d owned Elektra Records and signed Bread. I played him my songs and he liked them. He said, ‘Why don’t we try it again? We did pretty good the last time!’’

David signed to Jac’s new TimeWarner subsidiary Discovery, releasing the superb US-only album Love Is Always Seventeen in 1994. The title track instantly stood out and is now re-recorded with a fresh slant for The David Gates Songbook. In 1996-97, having always said that Bread would never reunite again, they did just that: no recordings but a first-ever world tour that did terrific business from South Africa to New Zealand to Northern Ireland and everywhere in between.

‘After the Bread reunion tour, I began writing and stock-piling songs and doing twenty or thirty concerts in the US each year. After one of the concerts, a year or so back, a woman came up to me and said, ‘Where can I buy an album that’s got everything on it that I heard tonight?’ And I said, ‘Well, ma’m, you can’t…’ And so the idea was born in my head to try to do an album that did have all of the best of everything I’d ever written, all the things that I do in concert.’

Debuting in the UK on Zomba/Jive in September 2002, The David Gates Songbook truly represents a lifetime of music – with five new songs each sharing the very same qualities that made the David Gates sound so popular in the seventies and ever since. ‘What I’m hoping,’ says David, ‘is that the people who have known and enjoyed the old songs will latch on to these five new things and think, ‘Hey, this guy’s still writing, still doing the same thing,’ and not forget about me.’

Not a chance of that!!!

My Review of David Gates' Manchester Concert March 31st 2003

David walked on the stage and opened with ‘Make It with You’, his young sounding voice amazed the Audience made up of mostly Middle Aged Couples. After telling the audience the story of the song been mistaken for been called ‘Naked With You’ he moved on to ’The Mustang’ and played it exact to the original recording except with that live edge to it that makes it special.
He played most of the new tracks off his recent album ‘The David Gates Songbook’ and some other unexpected surprises too like ‘Heart Its All Over’; the crowd loved it when he played ‘Love Is Always Seventeen’ which he did well.
David told many jokes throughout the show which I think were mostly repeated from shows a few years back with bread. One of the highlights of the show was David performing ‘Clouds: Suite’.
He allowed Guitarist, Randy Flowers Play his amazing instrumental version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ while he set up for the piano. He then played ‘Goodbye Girl but I think it was the piano songs that missed the drums most. During ‘Lost Without Your Love’ David got mixed up and sang ‘If we had love before, we can have it back once more’, instead of ‘but someday soon I’ll wake, and find my heart wont have to break’ at the part just before the guitar solo (Which was played excellently by Randy Flowers) He then played his song ‘Love and Bide’. He did ‘Clouds: Suite, Rain’ and told us to ‘buckle up’ as it was about 9 Minutes long, he played it wonderfully.
He then ‘ended the show’ with ‘Everything I Own’ which was done a key lower and then encored then came back on and did ‘If’.
Overall the show lasted about 80 - 90 Minutes although 15 were probably spent telling jokes and stories.
After the show, we went out to the artist’s entrance to try and meet David. I got lucky and received an autograph and a photo with Randy Flowers! But unfortunately David felt unwelll and so was unable to sign autographs :(
Overall the concert was brilliant and David wowed the audience with his strong voice and I had a great time.

David Crawt's Review of David Gates in Manchester.


When David's U.K. concert dates were announced, I set about deciding which one/ones I would be able to attend. My work schedule was looking full and opportunities were obviously going to be few.
My main priority however, was to get to the concert at the 'Bridgewater Hall' in Manchester. This would allow me to meet up with Mark Roberts (who did David on a T.V. show in the U.K.) and also Dean Adshead, a young (14) guitarist and devoted fan of 'Bread'. Just two weeks before the concert, I found out that I would be able to go. I immediately went to the 'Ticket Line' website and purchased THE LAST ticket for the stalls!


The journey to Manchester from my hometown of Holbeach is not an easy one. Holbeach is in the East of England, and Manchester is in the West. This meant a journey of 130 miles right across the 'backbone' of England. I left home at 11:00 a.m. and arrived at my hotel around 3:00 p.m. After checking in I had a look around 'The Trafford Centre'. This is a large shopping centre built on the outskirts of the city of Manchester. Dean had told me that the only 'Bread' album he did not have on CD was 'Baby I'm-A Want You' so, when I discovered a copy in the HMV shop, I got it for him. I met up with Dean around 6:20 p.m. and we set off for the concert with his Mum, Auntie & Nanna.


On arrival at the 'Bridgewater Hall', we looked around the foyer area for programs etc. but, unfortunately, there was nothing on sale. The only memorabilia we could find were some leaflets advertising David's U.K. tour. Shortly afterwards, Mark arrived with his partner, Jo.

David played acoustic guitar for most of the evening and was accompanied by the Flowers brothers, Jerry & Randy, who played bass and lead guitar respectively. They have their own band called 'Pinch' and you can check them out on their website at
Also on stage was a 10-piece string section.

It was no surprise that the show got underway with 'Make It With You'. There then followed a set, which included (nearly) all of the 'Bread' hits and David's most successful solo songs. Notable omissions were 'It Don't Matter To Me' & 'Never Let Her Go'.
A surprise addition to the set was 'Heart, It's All Over' . We were also treated to an instrumental rendition of 'Some Where Over The Rainbow' played on guitar by Randy in a way which included many interesting styles & harmonics.
David was in fairly good voice but it was noticeable that 'Everything I Own' was played in a lower key lower than the original record.
When he sat down at the piano we all knew that we'd be hearing 'Goodbye Girl' & 'Lost Without Your Love'. He also played 'Love & Bide', which we'd all heard on the 'Bread' tour, and 'Suite: Clouds, Rain'. It was around this time that the drums became obvious by their absence. 'Goodbye Girl' & 'Suite: Clouds, Rain' really suffered from the lack of drums and, although David tried to compensate with his piano playing, they were just not the same.


1. Make It With You
2. The Mustang
3. Diary
4. Love Is Always Seventeen
5. The Guitar Man
6. Mirror, Mirror
7. Heart, It's All Over
8. Baby I'm-A Want You
9. Find Me
10. Sweet Surrender
11. Aubrey
Randy Flowers plays 'Somewhere, Over The Rainbow'.
12. Goodbye Girl
13. Suite: Clouds, Rain
14. Love & Bide
15. Lost Without Your love
16. Everything I Own
17. If

I was hopeful that I could pull a few strings which would allow both Mark & Dean to meet David after the show. However, although Lisa Formica had tried very hard to arrange this for me, she had not been successful. I 'd also 'e' mailed David about this but my mail had gone unanswered. My only hope was that I would see Jo Rita Gates in the audience. If I could see her, she may remember me from when we had met before and maybe she could take us to see David. However, she was nowhere to be seen and I later found out that she had stayed in London, probably with one of her children who I know lives and works there.
After the show, I went to the stage door with Dean and we were among about a dozen people gathered there. However, we were all disappointed when David sent somebody out to say that he would not be signing any autographs. Jerry & Randy came out and were both very gracious. I complimented Jerry on his bass playing and then chatted with Randy. I'd met him before when he was playing lead guitar on the 1997 'Bread' world tour. Dean, as a fellow guitarist, was keen to chat with Randy and he also got a photo taken with him and an autograph. When David appeared he was eager to get on the coach. Dean commented that he was his youngest fan so David extended a hand for a fleeting handshake. And then, the coach was away and we went off to McDonalds for a late night burger (what a shame that there wasn't a Burger King close by).

David Crawt's Review of David Gates In Nottingham.

This concert was pretty much a repeat of the Manchester one. The only difference was that, at the end, David had many 'thank yous' to convey to all the people who had made the tour possible.
After the show, I was at the stage door and, this time, David was not is so much of a hurry. He signed many items for his fans including the front cover of my copy of his 'Songbook' C.D**."

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