Brother Dave Gardner- The Air Force
David Gardner (June 11, 1926 - September 22, 1983), known as Brother Dave Gardner, was a U.S. comedian and singer.
A Tennessee native, Gardner studied drumming, beginning at age 13. After a one-semester term as a Southern Baptist ministerial student at Union University in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, he began a musical career as a drummer and occasional vocalist. After a pair of demo singles for Decca Records around 1956, he had a 1958 Top-20 hit on OJ Records with White Silver Sands.
It was his comedic routines between songs, however, that brought him to the attention of RCA Records artist & producer Chet Atkins. The eventual result was a comedy album interspersed with a couple of songs - Rejoice, Dear Hearts! (1959), which propelled Brother Dave into the national eye, along with the first of several appearances on national television talk/variety shows such as The Tonight Show.
An arrest for marijuana possession in 1962 curtailed his visibility on television. Then, it seemed, changing public tastes (i.e., the falling out-of-favor of ‘beatnik’-style comedy), coupled with Gardner’s holding onto his same performing style, resulted in a similar fading of his recording career. After six albums for RCA Victor Records, he made two for Capitol Records, and then others for lesser labels. He had another legal problem over tax-evasion charges in the 1970s, which his son helped clear up.
Brother Dave had a role as a Southern preacher in the 1978 made-for-TV film Big Bob Johnson’s Fantastic Speed Circus. He was cast in a B-grade movie, and was just beginning work on it at the time of his death.
Gardner was twice married: his first wife, Millie, preceded him in death, and he was married to his second wife, Judy, at the time of his death. He had two children from his first marriage—son Dave II (deceased, 1999) and daughter Candace.
During his brief time as a star among America’s socially-aware stand-up comedians of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Brother Dave successfully fused a stream-of-consciousness style of addressing subjects (e.g., Lord Buckley, Jean Shepherd) with a classic Southern ‘storyteller/liars’-bench’ manner (e.g., Andy Griffith, and the later Justin Wilson and Jerry Clower), setting himself apart a bit from Northern Jewish contemporaries such as Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, and Shelley Berman.
Gardner mixed thought-provoking or confounding stand-alone one-liners, or ‘zingers’ (e.g., "An’ I’m writin’ a new book an’ it’s gonna be called "What Will the Preachers Do When the Devil is Saved?"", "Gratitude is riches, and complaint is poverty, and the worst I ever had was wonderful!", "Let them that don’t want none, have memories of not gettin’ any… let that not be their punishment, but their reward," and "Don’tcha know a diamond ain’t nothin’ but a piece o’ coal that’s stuck with it?") with satirical musings on his contemporary political scene ("…folks used to pray to God for rain, and now they call Washington,", "Say, a Democrat is somebody who expects somethin’ fer nothin’, and a Republican is somebody who expects nothin’ fer somethin’, an’ a Independent is a cat that greases his own car," and "If I were bound by either party, well then, I might ferget America,"). He also told traditional, humorous Southern stories, the most notable among these being "The Motorcycle Story", "When John Gets Here" (also called "The Haunted House"), and his version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as set in Rome, Georgia (U.S. state).