David Oliver

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Sweet singing David Oliver, the son of Jamaican parents, grew up in Florida. He scored on Mercury Records with "MS," which became a staple on quiet storm radio stations, but never scored another significant…
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Sweet singing David Oliver, the son of Jamaican parents, grew up in Florida. He scored on Mercury Records with "MS," which became a staple on quiet storm radio stations, but never scored another significant hit. Oliver started taking singing seriously when he was a high school student of 15; he sung in the school choir with the sopranos because of his naturally high register. Though born and raised in Florida, Oliver made regular trips to Jamaica to keep in touch with his heritage. He sung with vocal groups throughout high school and college and was inspired by major artists like the Temptations and Smokey Robinson.

After college, he joined the Air Force to keep from being drafted by the Army. He stayed five years and was a regular at the service's talent shows. After his tour of duty he moved to Los Angeles in 1967 and joined a racially mixed group called Five Days & Three Nights whose members consisted of other migrants to California; they had a big brassy sound like Chicago, Tower of Power, and Blood, Sweat & Tears; however, contract negotiations with Motown fell through and they disbanded.

After an eight-month association with Redbone ended in 1972 (he recorded Already Here with the band), Oliver went solo and worked clubs from L.A. to San Francisco. Five years later, he got discouraged and took a regular office gig in San Francisco. The office venture didn't last long, and he hooked with another big-band-type group, then joined the Mighty Joe Hicks Band as a singer and stayed until 1975. Mighty Joe recorded the self-titled Mighty Joe Hicks on Stax's Enterprise label in 1973. Oliver moved to Jamaica for a year, then renewed an association with Forest Hamilton, who got him the Mighty Joe Hicks gig and recorded David Oliver in 1978 with Wayne Henderson at the helm. (Oliver wanted to call the LP "Jamaican Man," but Mercury Records preferred the simpler David Oliver.) The single "MS" became a large urban soul hit, and Oliver toured with the R&B major stars. Everything was going well until Oliver unceremoniously died in 1981, a mere three years from the date of his first solo release, silencing a vastly underrated voice.