Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dave Fisher Lead Singer of The Highwaymen Dead At Age 70

Dave Fisher, founding member, musical director and lead singer of the Highwaymen, died Friday (May 7) at the age of 70. While still a high school student in New Haven, Connecticut, Dave sang with a doo-wop group called the Academics that released three singles on Ancho Records (while he was with them). Moving on a year later to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, Dave started the Highwaymen with Bob Burnett, Steve Trott, Chan Daniels and Steve Butts. Originally calling themselves the Clansmen, they quickly changed their name due to its unsavory connotations. The new moniker came from the Alfred Noyes poem of that name. After honing their act for two years on campus, the quintet travelled to New York, where they quickly picked up a manager, producer and recording contract. Their first single on United Artists Records was the classic folk tune, "Michael (Row The Boat Ashore)." Released during the height of the "folk boom," it's not surprising that it sailed to #1 for two weeks in the Summer of 1961. It was followed early the next year by the double-sided hit, "Cotton Fields" (#13) and "The Gypsy Rover" (#42). The group steadfastly refused to leave school, performing only on weekends, which slowed their success. "I'm On My Way" only reached #90 in 1962 and "The Bird Man" finished their chart run at #64 that year. While most of the others went on to law or business schools when the group disbanded in 1964 (Steve Trott served at one time as Assistant U.S. Attorney General and became a federal judge), Dave stuck with music, recording solo for Columbia and MGM Records before eventually working with former Four Preps singer Glen Larson on the music for his television productions (including the 1987 production, "The Highwayman"). A lawsuit filed by the original Highwaymen against the later Johnny Cash-Willie Nelson-Waylon Jennings-Kris Kristofferson incarnation was settled amicable when Dave's group opened a concert for the others and then granted them limited use of the name.