Dave was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on July 19, 1940, the son of Abe and Sadie Fisher. His special talent as a musician and singer first surfaced at Hillhouse High School where he was a member of “The Academics,” a popular doo-wop singing group that toured New England to great acclaim. Their hit “Something Cool,” with David singing lead, can still be heard on www.doowopjukebox.com as a song featured in June, 2006, and November 2008, and on YouTube.
Upon graduation from high school in 1958 he left The Academics behind and entered Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he continued his musical interests, graduating in 1962 with the University’s first degree in Ethnomusicology. In his freshman year, David was a founding member and lead singer of “The Highwaymen,” which became one of the most prominent and successful folk music groups of the 1960s.
While still at Wesleyan, United Artists released David’s arrangement of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” as one of the Highwaymen’s first records. “Michael” soon became a hit, soaring to #1 on America’s best seller lists, where it remained for many weeks, earning for David and the group a Gold Record.
“Michael’s” success nationally was immediately repeated around the world, and it became the number one record in more than 20 countries. It soon became the top-selling folk song of all time and was responsible in 1961 for a spike in the name Michael being given to newborn children. Dave and The Highwaymen followed “Michael” with a double sided hit, “Cotton Fields” and “The Gypsy Rover,” landing them in short order on the Ed Sullivan and the Johnny Carson television shows and launching the group on a nationwide concert tour.