Heart of Texas Country Music Association

Brady Native Dave Kirby

BMI Award Winning Songwriter, Guitarist and Vocalist

 

Dave Kirby was born in Brady, Texas, on July 10, 1938. Dave was influenced by his uncle, legendary Hank Williams’s front man Big Bill Lister. Lister took Dave under his wing and first introduced him to songwriting and guitar playing at the age of eight.

 

Dave moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1955. He landed a job at a local radio station playing country music. He was influenced by the music of Carl Smith, Mac Wiseman, Ernest Tubb and the guitar playing of Merle Travis.

Buck Owens recorded Dave’s first song “Down By the River”. Rose Maddox the cut the same song and shortly after Owens and Maddox recorded it as a duet. Johnny and Jonie Mosby and Porter Wagoner also added their vocals to Dave's compositions while he was living in New Mexico.

 

“During the 1960’s, Willie Nelson used to come out to Albuquerque and he got me to go and play in the band,” Dave recalled in a 2000 interview. “Willie got to liking my songs, and I don’t remember how, but Hank Cochran got to liking them too. They both wrote me saying ‘Come to Nashville’ so in 1967, I made the big move.”

 

Dave signed a writing contract with Pamper Music, which was owned in part by Ray Price. Other writers for Pamper at this time included Roger Miller, Harlan Howard, Nelson and Cochran.

 

“I got a few things cut and then I wrote “Is Anybody Going To San Antone?” Dave said. “It has become my biggest hit, but it just lay there at the Pamper shelf for three years before it ever got cut.” Charley Pride heard the song in 1970 and it became a multi million selling single.

Dave Kirby

Dave’s compositions became hits for a host of entertainers including “Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You” by Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, “April’s Fool” and “You Wouldn’t Know Love” by Ray Price, “What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana?” and “Sidewalks of Chicago” for Merle Haggard, “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang” for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, “Memories To Burn” for Gene Watson, “Where Are You Going Billy Boy?” for Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner, “Leavin’s Been Coming For A Long Long Time” for George Strait and “I’ll Go To A Stranger” for Johnny Bush.

Ray Charles, Moe Bandy, Norma Jean, Porter Wagoner, Johnny Russell, Texas Tornadoes, George Jones, Faron Young, Charley Walker, Johnny Rodriguez, Cal Smith, John Anderson, Kitty Wells, Razzy Bailey, Jo-El Sonnier, Curtis Potter, Hank Thompson and dozens more have recorded Dave's compositions.

Dave began session work in Nashville during the early 1970’s. His first session was with Country Music Hall of Famer Granpa Jones. “Granpa walked in the studio and looked at me,” Dave recalled. “I had kind of long hair and the first thing he said was ‘Son, don’t play any of those hippie licks on my record’.”

 

Dave went on to have a very successful session career playing lead guitar for Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Janie Fricke, Ringo Star, Emmylou Harris, Don Williams, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Crystal Gayle, Wynn Stewart, Ray Price, Moe Bandy, Ronnie Milsap, Connie Smith and Kenny Price.

 

Not only a successful writer and session player, Dave also contributed many vocal recordings of his own including “North Alabama” “Cantaloupe Jones” “The Rumor” “Cowboy Connection” and “Better Off When I Was Hungry.” Dave recorded for Boone, Capitol, Dimension and Monument Records.

Dot Records released his album “Writer, Singer, Picker” in 1973.

 

Dave married country music entertainer Leona Williams in 1985. The two entertained together throughout the country while still maintaining a heavy writing schedule and session work.

“Dave Kirby never realized his importance in the country music community,” Brady, Texas, disc jockey Tracy Pitcox said. “Dave played on virtually all of the sessions leaving Nashville throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. His songwriting is legendary. We were very honored to recognize Dave in his hometown for the last eight years during our ‘Dave Kirby Celebration’.”

Dave just completed work on his first solo album in twenty years shortly before his death. “Is Anybody Going To San Antone?” contains ten of Kirby’s biggest writing successes and was released on Heart of Texas Records on May 15, 2004.

Dave Kirby passed away at his Branson, Missouri, residence on Saturday, April 17, 2004, after a short illness. Kirby was diagnosed with multimyloma cancer in March of 2004.