smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

Brother Dave Gardner
“Rejoice, Dear Hearts!”
RCA Victor# LPM-2083
1959

MAILBAG:

There is a drastic error on your page. You’ve got Brother Dave lumped in with a bunch of snake oil salesmen. Maybe this was your idea of a joke, but it worries me that there might be some few out there who don’t know that he was a nightclub comedian. I used to listen to him when I was a teenager back in the late 50′s and early 60′s. I actually have the “Rejoice, Dear Hearts!” album; it was recorded in a Nashville nightclub. If he was still alive, Brother Dave himself would probably think it funny as hell that someone would later on mistake him for a preacher. But it bugs me to see this very entertaining man’s album displayed with that of con men such as Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggert and Pat Robertson. I thought you would want to know. –cyphun



Hello!
Saw your inclusion of Brother Dave in the “Preachers” category and the slightly outraged comments about including him in that listing. The fellow was right, Dave would have found it funny. I premiered a new, one-man play on Dave’s life and comedy. It’s called Rejoice Dear Hearts: An Evening with Brother Dave Gardner. It was the result of 2 1/2 years of research: interviews with Dave’s daughter, business associates, etc. The show will begin a national tour in 2006, under the auspices of The Jena Company of New York.

Dave almost became a preacher. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he enrolled at Union College in Jackson, TN, his hometown, with the goal of becoming a preacher. After the first semester (and 22 Chapel cuts!) he found out a band in the area needed a drummer. He took the job and went on the road. During the band’s performances, Dave would tell jokes and stories. While appearing at a club in St. Louis, the band’s leader walked out in the middle of a performance, leaving the band on stage. Dave calmly walked the to mike, lit a cigarette, and calmed the disgruntled crowd with his comedy. This caught the attention of the cigarette and concession stand manager, Millie Fletcher. She immediately saw Dave’s potential as a comic. Six weeks later they were married and shortly thereafter, they hit the road with Dave doing comedy and Millie as his manager. The rest is history. Interestingly enough, after his career collapsed in the 70′s and Millie died, Dave did consider going into the ministry. However, his new wife, Judy, helped him resurrect his career and he made a brief comeback. Unfortunately, he died in September, 1983, after finishing the first day of shooting on a “B” movie in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Dave is still loved by many. Rejoice!
– David A. Wright



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