Dave Rowland, the founder and lead singer of country group Dave & Sugar, died Nov. 1 in Nashville, following complications from a stroke. He was 74.
Prior to forming Dave & Sugar, Rowland toured with Elvis Presley as part of the J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, and later with the Four Guys. He also toured as part of Charley Pride’s road show.
By 1975, with Pride looking for a backup band, Rowland hired Jackie Frantz and Vicki Hackeman, and Dave & Sugar was formed.
After signing on with Pride’s management team, Dave & Sugar signed with RCA Records and recorded their first album. The trio’s first single, “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” penned by Shel Silverstein, reached the Top 25 on the country singles chart in 1976. The group’s second single, “The Door Is Always Open,” went to No. 1.
The group would earn approximately a dozen Top 10 singles, as well as two additional No. 1 hits, 1978’s “Tear Time,” and 1979’s “Golden Tears.”
Rowland disbanded the trio briefly during the early 1980s to try a solo career, releasing the album Sugar Free and charting two singles of his own. He toured with Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Barbara Mandrell and Hank Williams, Jr. He spent two years as Kenny Rogers’ opening act.
Rowland later reformed the trio with two new sets of “Sugar” partners.
Rowland is survived by his wife Terri Rowland, mother Ruby Rowland and sister Donna Fort and her husband Bob of Palm Desert, California, sister-in-law Angie Billis of Nashville, Tennessee, niece Vicki Martinka and husband John in Pennsylvania, and nephew Bobby Fowler and wife Belen and their two children in Argentina.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in the name of Dave Rowland be sent to the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2014, Rowland was honored by the Music City Tennis Invitational in recognition of four decades of event participation with proceeds to benefit the hospital.
Arrangements are pending for a celebration of life service.
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