Born: March 10, 1938 Primary Instrument: Piano
Dave Alexander - Blues Pianist, singer
Pianist Dave Alexander (Omar Sharriff) was a popular musician in San Francisco and Oakland in the 1960s and '70s. He appeared at many of the early San Francisco Blues Festivals in the 1970s, including the first annual in 1973. He also recorded two highly regarded albums for Arhoolie Records in the early '70s, The Rattler, and The Dirt On The Ground. Selections from both albums have been reissued since onto one CD, The Raven, on Arhoolie under the name Omar Sharriff. He was also featured on a 1968 compilation Oakland Blues, on World Pacific Records, which also included Albert Collins, George Smith and L.C. Robinson. For years Alexander was the star attraction at the famous Minnie's Can Do Club on Fillmore St. in San Francisco, where he attracted a large, loyal following, as well as media exposure for his blues and boogie-woogie piano styles.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1938, Alexander grew up in Marshall, Texas. His father was a pianist and his mother encouraged him to play in the church. His early exposure to Amos Milburn at a high school concert convinced him to become a professional musician. He was also aware of such piano legends as Jimmy Yancy and other boogie-woogie stylists like Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, whose records he heard on the radio. He traveled to Longview and Kilgore, Texas, and Houston and Dallas, to see and hear Ray Charles, T-Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown and Lowell Fulson. Back in Marshall, he also caught Ivory Joe Hunter and Floyd Dixon. Later he would also round out his listening by developing a deep affection for the music of Horace Silver.
Alexander moved to Oakland in 1957, and began a long history of working with various Bay Area musicians and traveling acts like Big Mama Thornton and Jimmy Witherspoon, and local favorites like L.C. Robinson, Lafayette Thomas and Johnny Fuller. He also performed at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in 1970.
In recent years Alexander has been living and performing mostly in the Sacramento area, where he has recorded three CDs on Have Mercy Records. He has also performed in Europe. He remains a crowd favorite at the yearly San Francisco Blues Fest.