DAVE PRATER

Born 9 May 1937, Ocilla, Georgia
Died 9 April 1988, near Sycamore, Georgia

Dave Prater was one half of the duo Sam and Dave, together with Sam Moore (born 12 October 1935, Miami, Florida). Sam & Dave created a body of sweaty, gritty soul that ranks among the finest and most popular produced in the late '60s. Samuel Moore and David Prater were both raised in the South, where they sang in church as children. Prater moved to Miami after high school to pursue a singing career. Working at a diner as a cook, one of his regular customers was another struggling singer named Sam Moore. They would soon cross paths at a talent show, at which the club owner insisted the two singers combine their talents as a duo. In 1960, Morris Levy signed them to Roulette Records, where they made good records produced by Henry Glover, but no hits. They switched to Atlantic in 1965; Jerry Wexler sent them to Stax to record songs by Isaac Hayes and David Porter with the Memphis Horns, and some of the best-loved hits of the soul era resulted, 13 entries each in soul and pop charts being almost the same, incl. 'Hold On! I'm A Comin'' (1966, # 1 R&B, # 21 pop). With Sam's gospel- flavoured call and Dave's earthier response, 'Hold On' was Stax's biggest impact on the pop chart since Carla Thomas's 'Gee Whiz' in 1961. Even bigger pop hits were 'Soul Man' (1967, # 1 R&B, # 2 pop) and 'I Thank You' (1968, # 4 R&B, # 9 pop). When Stax was sold in 1968 they switched to the parent label, Atlantic, and had more hits incl. 'Soul Sister, Brown Sugar' (# 18 R&B, # 41 pop). Also in 1968, Prater escaped prosecution after shooting his wife. Frequently feuding with his partner, Prater left Moore in 1970. After recording as a solo act for Alston Records, Dave would occasionally reteam with Sam throughout the seventies, landing a minor hit with "A Little Bit Of Good" on United Artists in 1974. The glory days were over, though, in spite of a revival of interest thanks to the Blues Brothers movie. Remaining hostile toward each other, the battling duo disbanded for good in 1982. For a time Prater teamed with Sam Daniels as the new Sam and Dave, until his former partner launched a legal action. In 1987, Prater was arrested for selling crack to an undercover policeman. Dave Prater was killed in a car crash near Sycamore, Georgia, on his way to his mother's house in Ocilla. He was 50. Sam and Dave were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Book: Sam Moore with Dave Marsh, Sam and Dave : an oral history. New York : Avon Books, 1998. Recommended listening: The Best of Sam and Dave (Atlantic, 1990, 21 tracks).

 
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