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Introduction to David Gates

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David Gates (born in 1940 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American singer­ songwriter and musician best known as the lead singer of the soft-­rock band Bread, which achieved success in the 70s music era. The musically­ talented Gates, together with Jimmy Griffin, Robb Royer and Larry Knetchel (drummer Mike Botts would later join) formed Bread in the late 1960s. In the 1970s Bread attained chart successes namely through the singles “Make It With You,” “If,” “Baby I’m­ A Want You,” and “Everything I Own” which have become oldies music favorites. Gates also started his solo career in 1973, starting off with his debut album First, whose single

“Clouds” peaked at #47 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the adult contemporary singles chart. His most successful solo single to date was 1977’s “Goodbye Girl,” which was also the theme song to the hit 1977 motion picture of the same title. Goodbye Girl was also the name of Gates’ third album in 1978 which reached #165 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Gates and Bread split in 1977, and staged their final reunion in 1996. Griffin, Knetchel, and Botts had all passed away, leaving only Gates and Royer as the surviving members of Bread.

From a “Bread” maker to solo star

The musically prolific David Gates was born David Ashworth Gates in Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 11, 1940. Music seems to be running in the family, as his father was a band director and played the piano.

Gates learned to play piano, guitar and bass guitar proficiently, and when he was in high school he began to perform in local bands. One of his earliest big breaks came when his band backed Chuck Berry when the rock and roll guitar virtuoso performed in Tulsa.

One of Gates’ earliest known songs he’d written was “Jo Rita,”, a single released locally. He wrote this song for his childhood sweetheart, whom he married by the time he entered university.

Gates and his family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1961, while Gates continued to pursue a career in music. He started in the industry by being a music copyist, songwriter and producer.

Soon he slowly realized success that was coming by his way as a songwriter. He provided the pop group The Murmaids with their only hit “Popsicles and Icicles,” which went to Top Ten in 1963. He also wrote songs and produced records for other acts such as The Monkees, Girlfriends, Brenda Lee, Nino Temp & April Stevens, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Underground Sunshine, Mark Lindsay, and many others. Gates also worked with legends such as Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin. He arranged and produced the single “Baby, The Rain Must Fall” which brought a hit for folk singer Glenn Yarbrough in 1965. He continued to write songs for other artists even as he had formed Bread.

Gates had wanted to get his own songs recorded, so he formed Bread with James Griffin and Rob Royer in the late 1960s. Later on, drummer Mike Botts and keyboardist Larry Knetchel (who came to replace Royer) joined the band. Bread became one of the hot commodities during the early 1970s, with hits such as “Make It With You,” “It Don’t Matter To Me,” “If,” “Baby I’m­A Want You,” “Everything I Own,” and “Lost Without Your Love.” The band split in 1977.

Even while with Bread, Gates launched his solo career releasing his self­produced debut album First in 1973. Its leadoff single “Clouds” peaked at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the Billboard adult contemporary singles chart. Another single off the album, “Sail Around The World,” reached at #50 on the Hot 100 (#11 adult contemporary). The album itself reached #107 on the Billboard 200.

His second LP Never Let Her Go was issued in 1975; it went to #102 on the Billboard 200. The album’s title track went to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, Gates’ first Top 40 hit.

Gates’ third LP Goodbye Girl (1977) peaked at #165 on the pop album chart, despite its title track going to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#3 on the adult contemporary singles chart). “Goodbye Girl” was also his most successful single to date, and also appeared on the hit 1977 film of the same title. Gates released his next two studio albums Falling In Love Again (which featured the single “Where Does The Lovin’ Go”) and Take Me Now (with the title track as the single). He created many memorable tunes such as “Everything I Own,” which he wrote as tribute for his father who Gates saw as a big influence in his life.

In 1994 Gates released another album of new material, Love Is Always Seventeen(which reached #39 on the Heatseekers album chart). He reunited with his former Bread band mates Griffin (with whom he had settled legal disputes regarding the use of the “Bread” name, which he and Griffin co-­owned), Botts and Knetchel in 1996 to stage a final Bread tour. Griffin, Botts and Knetchel have since passed away, leaving him and Royer the only surviving Bread members.

Gates has virtually been out of the public eye, contenting himself by staying at his California ranch where he also keeps his own recording studio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most notable albums released by David Gates?

  • First (1973)
  • Never Let Her Go (1975)
  • Goodbye Girl (1978)
  • Falling in Love Again (1980)
  • Take Me Now (1981)

How has David Gates contributed to the band Bread?

Bread in 1971 (L-R: David Gates, Robb Royer, Jimmy Griffin, Mike Botts)
Bread in 1971 L R David Gates Robb Royer Jimmy Griffin Mike Botts

David Gates was a key member of Bread, serving as:

  • Lead vocalist and guitarist
  • Primary songwriter, bringing hits like “If” and “Make It With You”
  • One of the main producers for the band’s albums

Who were the members of the band Bread?

As of the latest information available:

  • David Gates
  • Larry Knechtel (passed in 2009)
  • Mike Botts (passed in 2005)
  • Jimmy Griffin (passed in 2005)
  • Robb Royer

What is the significance of the band name Bread?

The name “Bread” signifies:

  • Simplicity and universality, akin to the staple food “bread”
  • The band’s intent to create music that was essential and nourishing to the spirit

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