Dave Rowland

Born on January 26, 1944

Departed on November 1, 2018 and resided in Franklin, Tennessee

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Dave Rowland, born January 26, 1944, known to many in the music business as the founder and lead singer of hit-making group Dave & Sugar died November 1, 2018 in Nashville, due to complications from a stroke.

Before forming Dave & Sugar, Rowland was part of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet (who was touring with Elvis Presley at the time), and later the Four Guys. The Stamps Quartet was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1988. He also was a prominent member of Country Music Hall of Fame member 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” (written by Shel Silverstein) broke into the Top 25 of Billboard magazine’s country singles chart in early 1976. Their second single “The Door Is Always Open,” shot straight to the number one spot on the country charts, a driving, lushly produced track which expertly combined Rowland’s resonant baritone with soaring harmonies.
Two successive singles, “I’m Gonna Love You,” and “Don’t Throw It All Away,” used the same basic formula as “The Door Is Always Open,” and also became huge hits in 1976-77. Their peak run garnered nearly one dozen Top 10 singles, including two more No. 1 hits – “Tear Time” (1978) and “Golden Tears” (1979). Overall, Dave & Sugar charted 16 times on the Billboard country charts.

Dave & Sugar was a slick sounding, soulful vocal trio that during their heyday was labeled “the country ABBA.” Although their career was much shorter lived than that of Bjorn and crew, Dave & Sugar did share the Swedish group’s knack for catchy tunes, sparkling production, and full, rich, male/female vocal arrangements. Their touring took them throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand and Italy, where the group played a command performance for the Mayor of Rome.
Rowland also toured with Conway Twitty, Hank Williams, Jr., Waylon Jennings, and Barbara Mandrell and was an opening act for Kenny Rogers for two years.
Rowland disbanded the trio briefly during the early 1980s to try a solo career, releasing an album entitled (appropriately) Sugar Free and charting two singles of his own. Rowland later reformed the trio with two new sets of “Sugar” partners.

Dave Rowland is survived by his wife Terri Rowland, mother Ruby Rowland and sister Donna Fort and her husband Bob, of Palm Desert, Calif., sister-in-law Angie Billis of Nashville, Tenn., niece Vicki Martinka and husband John in Pennsylvania, and nephew Bobby Fowler and wife Belen and their two children in Argentina.

22 Comments to Dave Rowland

  1. Betty Griffin
    November 3, 2018 11:25 pm

    I first met Dave when he was with Coy Cook and The Senators. Was impressed with his vocal gift, his respectful manner and his good humor. He has touched many lives with his singing. He will be missed. I thank him for sharing his talent with us and I thank you, his family, for being willing to share him with the general public. May God hold you in the palm of His hand and give you the peace, the courage, whatever you need during this time.

  2. Kathie Baillie
    November 5, 2018 5:45 pm

    Dave was my neighbor, friend and brother. We shared many tour dates together and many of life’s blessings like being best friends. He was always there for me and my family no matter what. I will miss him terribly but his music will live on forever. ❤️
    Kathie Baillie
    Baillie & The Boys
    Sony Records Nashville

  3. Rick Dominick
    November 6, 2018 1:02 am

    I met Dave in 1977 at the ACM Awards. He took the time to shake my hand, sign my program and chat about the old Long Beach auditorium where they held gospel concerts back then. Awesome person and a great singer!! Prayers for the family.

  4. Terri Rowland
    November 6, 2018 5:32 pm

    My wonderful, caring husband. I am lost without you. At least you are no longer in pain. So many people have asked about you. You were an amazing man and my husband, my life of 33 years. What an amazing career. Love you always. Terri

    • Ralph Comer
      November 10, 2018 11:01 am

      David and I were saddened to read of Dave’s death. Know you are in our collective prayers.

      We talked about his performance years ago at the Oxford Orphanage Annual Parade where he was the headliner. It was so nice of him to recognize Frank & Pat Thomerson on their 50th wedding anniversary.

      May the fond memories that are yours alone to hold bring comfort today and in the difficult days ahead.

      God Bless!
      Ralph Comer & David Thomerson

    • Jenny
      February 10, 2019 11:36 pm

      Terri! I’m so sorry to hear this. Thinking of you.

      Jenny Duke

    • Jim D
      August 28, 2019 2:03 am

      I saw Dave and sugar at the Lansing Civic Center years ago. What a fun personality he had. Prayers are with you

  5. Terri Rowland
    November 6, 2018 5:36 pm

    My wonderful, caring husband. I am lost without you. At least you are no longer in pain. So many people have asked about you. You were an amazing man and my husband, my life of 33 years. What an amazing career. Love you always. Terri

    • Evelyn Rodgers
      November 8, 2018 3:29 pm

      Bill saw the article about Dave in the paper.
      I did not know. We are so sorry for you in your loss.
      Dave was friendly and always good to see and talk to.
      I know you will miss him so much.
      God bless and hope to see you sometime.

  6. Gary Hathcock
    November 7, 2018 2:30 pm

    Dave, You will be missed my friend! Everyone from WCPR and your tennis family will miss you! The men from Squirrel Camp will miss your charm and your stories! Gary

  7. Jackie Frantz Cusic
    November 7, 2018 5:40 pm

    Terri, though I’ve never had the opportunity to meet you I wanted you to know how sorry I am for your loss. I had the awesome opportunity of getting to sing with Dave as one of the first two Sugars. He is the one who gave me that opportunity and all the blessings that came with it. I will forever be grateful to God and to Dave for taking a chance on me. May the Lord comfort and carry you through the days ahead.

  8. David Eastman
    November 8, 2018 12:57 am

    I was on the road with Dave from 1990 thru1994. Dave was always such a professional and always on his mark on stage, I will truly treasure the days on the road and the knowledge he taught me. My father Chuck Eastman managed Dave in the late 80s and early 90s both now our gone and sorely missed. Rest In Peace Dave.

  9. Ann McNair
    November 8, 2018 6:30 pm

    Terry, I know my husband Greg will reach out to you. They played tennis, starting over 35 years ago, at Maryland Farms Country Club. Dave was always competitive but very generous with his heart and his time. I am so sorry for your loss. With love, Ann McNair

  10. Greg McNair
    November 9, 2018 9:53 am

    Dave and I first met over 30 years ago at Maryland Farms Athletic Club where we both enjoyed playing tennis. He was an excellent player with a very competitive zeal for the game. At first, we played singles against each other and later became quite a formidable doubles team. But Dave was more than just a tennis partner, he fast became my friend and would do anything for me. I loved hearing his stories about his musical career and about the artists he performed with, especially Elvis. Terri, my heart and prayers go out to you and your family. I will miss Dave terribly.

  11. Carol Wideman Adams
    November 10, 2018 2:05 pm

    Hello Terri.
    I am so saddened by the great loss of your husband Dave. My husband, Ed Wideman, met Dave at Stamps School of Music so many, many years ago. Then, I think their paths crossed again singing for Elvis – Ed sang briefly with the Stamps back in the early 70’s. What I do remember so clearly is Dave flying all the way up to Toronto, Canada to attend Ed’s funeral in 1979 after he died tragically in a car crash leaving his 2 children & myself alone. As many have mentioned, and you of course, know first hand, Dave was a very caring man with a big heart. My deepest condolences to you Terri and trust God will surround you with His love & comfort in the days ahead.
    Thinking of you & praying.

  12. Regina Leigh King
    November 15, 2018 5:36 pm

    I sang with Dave and Sugar for five years. That was my first professional gig in Nashville. He taught me so much about harmony and having a love for music. I was very blessed to have spent five years touring with him and having him as my friend for the last 30 years.
    I got to know many of Dave’s family members but especially his wife Terri. She was the apple of his eye and the love of his life. I will hold my memories dear and always be eternally grateful for the time I spent with him.

  13. Gary Branchaud
    December 1, 2018 8:04 pm

    I toured with Dave back in the early 80s, and then again about 5 years later for another 3 years. He hired me while I was performing with a comedy act in the Embers night club in Printer’s Alley. Just for fun, I was wearing a superman outfit during the performance. While we were on break, Dave came back to the dressing room, and with a big smile, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I ever considered playing bass without the superman outfit. I knew who he was, so I told him that I’d be glad to, and he hired me on the spot. I performed with him throughout the US and Europe and had the opportunity to get to know Dave like a brother. He shared his life stories with me, and it was an honor to know him.

  14. Karen (Rowland) Brennan and Tom Brennan
    December 17, 2018 1:13 am

    Terri – I am soooo very sorry to just be hearing this sad news! I was running searches this evening through Google and Ancestry on some of the Rowland family and discovered to my absolute dismay that David passed in early November and I hadn’t heard about it. David was my cousin, and although I rarely got to see him, he was still family. The last time I saw him was the first time I met you! Tom and I visited Ruby Helen while we were on vacation and you and David had just brought her back home the day before, and we spent the afternoon on her patio talking, and then ran into each other at dinner! Please know that you have our deepest condolences and sympathy and are definitely in our prayers for God to bring comfort. We are so very sorry for your loss. You and David were such a team, and that was evident when we met you. I’m sure my brother Gene doesn’t know either, and I’ll tell him tomorrow as it’s already very late. I’ll also give Ruby Helen a call and let her know I just found out. This just breaks my heart. We were so proud of David and his musical accomplishments – and always will be. He had an amazing talent. We were fortunate to see him sing years ago at the Circle Star while he was still with Charlie Pride – I believe Sue Powell and Vicki were with him then. I’m sure David’s dad, my Uncle Bill, was at Heaven’s door to welcome him. This is a rough time of year to be grieving – if there is ever a good time – but I pray that God’s peace will fill your heart and mind. We love you <3

  15. Debbie Meredith
    December 31, 2018 12:17 am

    Terri, was running your name through some sites to see if you were still around and came across Dave’s death notice. I’m so very sorry Terri to hear this. I can’t imagine the pain your going through. When you get to where you feel like talking please give me a call. I hate that we fell out of touch. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for comfort.

  16. Victor Emerson Jr.
    January 14, 2019 1:14 am

    Sorry to hear about Dave passing away Being a young man from rural Oklahoma I’ve always been fan of classic country music I lead singing at our local church music has been part of my whole life As a younger boy Dave & Sugar was one and still is one of my favorite country groups as a young adult. Dave had such a rich beautiful voice next to Larry Gatlin I bought Anthology on CD by Dave & Sugar several years ago and still play it I never get tired of listening to him He will be missed

  17. April Martin
    February 10, 2019 11:45 pm

    I just heard of his passing. I didn’t know him personally but Dave and Sugar was my first ever concert. I still listen to them now. They inspired my love of music. I pray for his family and friends. May God comfort you!

  18. Mick Lloyd
    February 11, 2019 11:57 am

    Rest in peace my friend! You are always great to be with, either on the tennis court, or listening to songs for Dave & Sugar and for yourself. I will always be grateful for your recording “Fool By Your Side” which was my first major hit. Forming Dave & Sugar was a brilliant move and we can all see that the success of the Group lived on and on. You were a fighter on the tennis court and in the music business! You will be missed. My prayers go out to all of your family and friends!

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