7.31.2010

IN REMEMBRANCE OF DAVE GILBERT OF THE ROCKETS


David Lee Gilbert December 4, 1951 – August 1, 2001 

This is the 10 th Anniversary of the passing of Dave Gilbert... In his honor we are re running the story written by his widow and Pam Green.... It is a very lovely piece...

Story by D. Petra Gilbert and Pam Green


Dave Gilbert was charismatic. Dave Gilbert was a phenomenal lead singer. And despite his rock star status, he had a humble heart. David Lee Gilbert died nine years ago and friends, family and fans still miss his wide grin, distinctive laugh, and his willingness to listen to anyone who needed to be heard.

Despite his physical deterioration from liver cancer, in mid-winter of 2001, David traveled by train to a retreat in the Adirondack Mountains to cleanse his soul, continue his faith in sobriety and write about his life. On his last full day on earth, 7.31.01, David Lee Gilbert entered St. Joseph Mercy Hospital where he passed on to the other side in room 731 with his wife by his side.

The son of deaf mute parents, 10-year-old David discovered his singing voice and knew that he had found his passion and path.



In ‘67, Gilbert and high school friends formed a band named the Midwest Tree Company. When the band broke up in 1970, Gilbert moved to Ann Arbor and joined Shaky Jake, managed by Skitch Hill.

David’s first wife, Terry Valdez vividly remembers those times. “He started working with Shaky Jake band and we had a room in the Hill St house in Ann Arbor”.

It was at that house in January ‘71 that Ted Nugent asked Gilbert to join him and the Amboy Dukes. Before they got their own apartment, Terry and Dave lived with Nugent and his fiancé, which worked well as “David wasn’t getting high at that time,” recalls Valdez.
 




Survival of the Fittest had just been released and although Gilbert wasn’t on the vinyl, he toured the country with Nugent and the Dukes for more than a year. Traveling with Ted and other band members as they crossed the country to play The Whiskey in LA, “David and I were in the back of the station wagon. We played games,” recalls Terry. And according to Valdez, the vibe between Ted and Dave was always good.

 
“He loved David,” Terry says. “Ted was proud of David’s talent.” And when David wanted to form his own band Shadow with his brother Marc, Valdez adamantly states that the parting with Nugent was amicable.



NEW ORDER

In 1974, David was numbing the profound pain of losing his mother with alcohol and drugs. He took his dad to LA for a break and considered not singing anymore. Instead of quitting music, he joined New Order with Ron Asheton, and Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson. They lived in the Coronet Apartment house on Sunset. It was the mid-70s, blow was abundant and Dave’s addiction was at a peak. The New Order cut an album, but sensing that it musically wasn’t a good fit for him, Gilbert returned to Detroit.

At the end of ‘75, Dave formed Wolf Ticket. Backed by Russ Gibb, the group jelled and just before they were leaving for LA, Gilbert jammed with a band called the Rockets at the Roadhouse. Ironically, Rocket founders Johnny "Bee" Badanjek and Jim McCarty were musicians Dave idolized since his pre-teen days of sneaking in through a bathroom window at the Casino to see them play in Billy Lee and the Rivieras. They then became Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.




Instead of joining the band immediately, Gilbert, without a word, went to LA to promote Wolf Ticket. When Dave returned to Detroit, the Rockets were recording Love Transfusion with Don Davis who insisted on finding a lead singer and front man. According to legend, Gilbert walked in, was given lyrics, sang five takes of a song and the first take made it to the album.
 

Recording six albums together, the Rockets were prolific. Although they never achieved top tier national status, they were sought after as a hard rocking opening act and toured with Bob Seger, Kiss, the Who, and ZZ Top, to name but a few.

Gilbert was an engaging performer whose astounding rock and roll voice captivated audiences and cultivated a legion of fans. Grateful, Gilbert always had a smile, a kind word, and time to sign an autograph. When the Rockets disbanded, Dave worked with well-known Detroit musicians in Roadhouse, followed by the Homewreckers and Sunz Uf Phun.

From a comment on a Facebook link, Bogdon Vasquaf writes, “I did a gig with Dave and the Homewreckers… Dave couldn’t hear the PA and he refused to have the band play quieter…  Dave demanded the monitors be removed from the stage because he didn’t want to see them (he kicked off his floor monitor)… I thought he was being unreasonable until he sang with all his heart and we could hear him on stage over the guitars and drums blaring. 


Dave Gilbert is one of the all time great rock and roll singers ever to live.”   Dave on the job happy Ultimately, he left his full-time musical career behind, learned the trade of applying Dryvit, a synthetic stucco finish used on exteriors, married his longtime friend and love, and to the delight of Detroit audiences, continued jamming with local bands. 

Gilbert was proud of transitioning to a “normal” drug free life, when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Dave with friends at the Dave Gilbert Benefit Show In October 1999, friends, fans, local musicians, and DJs coordinated a benefit concert in Gilbert’s hometown of Union Lake to raise money for his medical expenses.   


Despite his illness, he was filled with love and gratitude for those who attended and he joyfully performed with the Rockets and other musicians. Jimmy McCarty and Dave Gilbert Michael McIntyre, former DJ at WCSX (now at Nashville’s RQQ), sent a message saying, “…I still have all of my Rockets vinyl. 


Every time I hear Dave doing his thing, it just brings back so many memories of seeing the guys live. I just worshipped Dave when I was a kid and anytime he sings it brings a big ‘ole Detroit grin to my face. Just wanted to let you know I’ve never forgotten about Dave. He was a rock n roll star.”

43 comments:

Sherry Martin Mulligan said...

WOW ! He Was Beautiful In And Out . DAVID LEE GILBERT Will Never Be Forgotten .... Beautiful Story Dee , Well Said !!!!!! Love You . S

Keith Ricker said...

Fantastic story Dee! Its always good to re visit his life from time to time.I really enjoyed it!!Thanks

David Raymond Fair said...

Loved his picture with Nugent, where did you dig that one up :) Awesome job !!!

Geri Rubello Gillespie said...

"He was a true entertainer with lots of divine energy"

mitch wilcher said...

"That was great piece on Dave Gilbert Kimmer, I could tell it was done from the heart with great love!"

Chris Reimer said...

Dave R.I.P ...miss ya man

tammy fabeck said...

What an awesome piece Dee. R.I.P. Dave, gone but NEVER forgotten, what an impression he made on every life he touched, the memories go way back Tammy Fabeck

Dee Gilbert said...

can only say Thank You to you Kim who I have come to know and so admire you for the beautiful person you are and for all your creative passion and drive that you put into your site and with people that you believe in that brings so much joy to so many.You are an angel...

Thank you to post the piece on Dave~Lee,that is what I called him.:)
I Loved this man with all my heart as did many.He like you shared his passion and just gave so much to the world while he was with us.
With Much Gratitude, I Thank you! Amazing Retrokimmer! D.G. : )

Bill Gardiner said...

My First gig in Detroit was at the Silverbird for 2 Nights where my Band Follies Bizarre opened for the Rockets in January 1979
great rockin those nights!!! at 6 and Telegraph

Eric Rasmussen said...

I remember the Silverbird near the Old Redford Gym. Even Uncle Ted would stop by at times!

Mike Sweet said...

"Dee, i believe Dave had one of the greatest voices in rock n roll, totally under rated he is greatly missed he will be in my thoughts today ,as will you"

Alice sioux said...

"David was a friend of mine from way back before his fame with the Rockets. I used to be in awe when I hung out at his house and marvel that as one of Creations ironic mysteries he along with brother Mark and sister Debbie were born to deaf/mute parents and yet he could
sing like the one of the boys in choir of Vienna at one time and belt out raunchy rockstar vocals the next! I first met Dave when we were 15. He and I are a day apart in age and both being fire signs we hit it off as friends immediately. there were often parties at his house on Keith because it never bothered his parents. I went to see them in concert where their father would go to watch and bob to the vibrations of the bass.
Being of the same age it is difficult for me to comprehend his young demise. I still can't believe it. He is sorely missed! My heart goes out to Dee and his daughter, Layla.

Dee Gilbert said...

kimmer "You are an angel... Talk soon... Beautiful heart felt words...xo"

Mitch Wilcher said...

"R.I.P Brother, the rock n' roll legacy lives on!!!

Patricia Haggadone said...

Patricia Haggadone, I meet David along time ago , my daughter was onl5 and in love with David, I have a beauitful picture of him holding her on his lap and she looks at him and tells himshe is going to marry him and boy did he laugh, we all did I have a few David took with just cause he was a nice guy, ,He was a great singer, and ur good friend too, we miss him , I thought about him when I woke up today and I never got to meet Dee but did see those 2 great pictures of u n David, he looked so so happy, n healtrhy too you both look in love, Am moving back to Mich, from Texas and would love to meet u n show you are pictures, there framed on my desk, He was my friend n I treasure them , Take Care C U soon n u know hes still singing dont you? He was one of a kind never seen him mean not even once just remember that smile n laugh

Anonymous said...

One of Rock n Rolls greatest treasures. Him music changed my life. i was inspired to play guitar and would play alone with the rockets music at a young age. when i got older i realized that i had great taste in music and had a ear for talent. and talented dave was. i could say so many great things about this man but in short he was and will always be a treasure to rock music.
Rip dave.

Anonymous said...

Awesome job Dee...his love, life and music...WOW!

Anonymous said...

Awesome job Dee...his love, life and music...WOW!

Jessica Kennedy said...

"Dave was a wonderful man. What a great article."

Anonymous said...

ya i can remember when he got up in front of our third grade class(he was also in that class . and sang to the class (sweet little sheila) i think it was a buddy holly song

Richard said...

my name is Skitch. David was a joy to work with. I loved touring with him with Ted Nugent and of course the time we spent with shadow. David & Mark singing together could bring a person to tears they were so awesome. I to this day still miss david. We was a true Rock N Roll frontman, Im glad to been part of his life.

Anonymous said...

Dave was a brillant charasmatic performer, but more importantly a kind, good soulful man! I miss him so much. He would be so proud of you Dee, just like I am. Sister Susie

Larry "Taj" Meholick said...

Dave was one of the closest friends I will ever have. I had the honor of his voice gracing my songs, standing shoulder to shoulder with him on stage, and occasionally raising a little hell together.
His beautiful soul is in the hands of God, and his memories are in the capable hands of his loving wife. Thanks, Dee.

Terry L. Colvin/Hatton said...

Beautiful Dee! You are Beautiful in side and out! This is why David loved you so!

Tim Smith said...

I really do miss Dave. He was my mentor and friend. I'd like to think that he was an inspiration to us all.

Miss Lexy said...

Only one Dave Gilbert!! He was awesome!! Had to keep replacing my Rocets vinyl as I wore them out....

Mr. Sandy said...

Any time that I knew that The Rockets were going to be the opening act for A band at The Toledo Sports Arena I ALWAYS went! Dave Gilbert had INCREDIBLE STAGE PRESENCE!!! Definitely one of my favorite frontmen of all time!

I just designed A Rockets T-Shirt that turned out pretty nice. I will be wearing it PROUDLY and often!

Scott Dailey said...

I played with Dave in Sunzophun, we became good friends. He was a great person, I have some great stories. Also, have a couple songs we recorded at my studio during that period.

Scott Dailey said...

I played with Dave in Sunzophun , we became great friends. He was an awesome man , I have some good stories during this time. We also recorded a few tunes at my studio , cool stuff

Kim Retrokimmer said...

thanks Scott! I will forward your comment to Dee...

Philippe SELAMME said...

What a singer! He had fans in France too and we are still listening the Rockets. Did he release another records?
Philippe

Anonymous said...

I grew up with the Rockets and they are my all time favorite band. Period!! I have seen them at least 15 times growing up in Detroit and always went to see them when they were playing. I dated the daughter of the owner of "Jaggers" on Elizebeth Lake Rd. and was allowed in the back door at 16 years old(1980).. Being the only 16 year old in the bar and making an effort to meet him, he gave me attention and his time. He was very humble for his fame in Detroit. After a meeting him once, he actually knew my name when I saw him again in the bar. He made me feel like a celebrity at 16 years old and I thank him for that. At times he would actually get on stage and sing. He was an amazing talent and my heart broke when I read he died. He could belt it out like nobody I have ever hear to this day and I'm now 50. RIP Dave, I miss you very much and I wish you could have made more music that I could listen too. I have all your albums now converted to MP3.

Anonymous said...

I still think of David almost on a daily basis, I miss him a lot, when I introduced him to Ted I encouraged Ted to get his guitar out of his car a Jam with David, he was hired instantly. that when I went back on the road witth Nugent for the second time.-skitch hill

Cheri Smith said...

I was always bugging Davis to sing "I'm so tired" (kinks) lol and he always would even though I am sure he got tired of me asking all the time. :) Fun times. Thanks Dee for the memories.

Cheri Smith said...

I was always bugging Davis to sing "I'm so tired" (kinks) lol and he always would even though I am sure he got tired of me asking all the time. :) Fun times. Thanks Dee for the memories.

Anonymous said...

Someday when I have more time I'll have to type up some of the times I had with David. Favorite story is from the Chicago Blues Festival. A good man, gone too soon.

Marty Jones said...

R.I.P....I met Dave in Waynesville, NC. I think the year was about 1977. I was working in a club as a DJ. The owner says, "I got a friend who plays in a band in Detroit. They're coming down to rock the house for a few nights. I need you to be here to run lights". It was The Rockets. The owner's buddy was Dennis Robbins. Dennis is from Waynesville. Awesome experience. I was just a kid, and they were all very kind and friendly to me.

Johnny Bee Badanjek said...

But he didn't mention that after the band played one night they took everyone out for a bon fire and some white lightning drinking. This stuff is 200 proof. They started the bon fire and there were big logs to sit on and watch the fire, they gave Dave Gilbert a small glass of white lightning. He drank it and said, wow! That's good, let me have another. They told him slow down this is very strong. he said, give me another one, so they did and he drank it. He's startin' to feel good now, so he asks for another one. And they warned him to go slow. Well after his third white lightning, someone said, Hey Dave are you alright. And he just fell face forward straight into the bon fire. Sparks went flyin' up to the sky. They pulled him out by grabbing the back of his hair. Nothing like being on the road! Oh Well!

Nish Blog said...

Wow, trip down memory lane, I had the pleasure of knowing Dave and his brother Marc, thank you for an excellent tribute page, They were awesome guys and great musicians...

Mysterious One... said...

SIOUX!!! That sounds vaguely, very similar!

Anonymous said...

Party Marty Jones...keepin up with the jones is killing me

Joe Wudyka. said...

Met Dave towards the end of his life at my brother in laws home in Sterling Heights. He was contracted to do some work around the house. My brother in law called me and told me to rush over with my Rockets albums for Dave to autograph (which he happily did and I still have/treasure). It was a hot and humid evening and when I arrived,
Dave was sitting in shorts with his legs in the water of my brother in laws built in pool. In his hands was an acoustic guitar. He looked at me and said "Wanna hear something?" I replied, "Yes, Lost Forever Left Dreaming." Dave (with legs in the water) gave me chills by performing a live private performance of the song. I will always treasure that experience in my life. He passed a short time after

Brad batchelor said...

Played with dave in jr high into high school. Principal didnt like his long hair so dave shaved his head and wore a wig when we played. even then he was a super unique talent. Never saw him after high school but he left great memories with me. Brad batchelor Boone nc

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