Dave Barker was born David Crooks in Jamaica in 1948. Dave Barker was a member of several street-corner vocal groups. He teamed up with Glen Brown in the late ’60s, and the pair recorded “Lucky Boy” for Harry J and “In This Whole World” for Coxsone Dodd before parting ways.
Crooks was also a member of the Techniques, replacing Pat Kelly, who had in turn replaced Slim Smith, in the legendary trio, recording a pair of songs with remaining members Winston Riley and Bruce Ruffin. David Crooks became Dave Barker after working with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in 1969, recording some hits like “Prisoner of Love,” “Set Me Free”, “Shocks of Mighty” releasing an album in 1970 called Prisoner of Love.
Although Barker had a sweet, high tenor, and was a gifted and soulful singer, Perry encouraged the DJ side of him, and Barker’s American-styled radio DJ interjections have arguably brought him more attention than his singing. It was as a DJ voice that Winston Riley brought Barker in on a project he was recording with veteran session organist Ansel Collins, and the result was 1971’s wacky and infectious single “Double Barrel,” which ended up topping the charts in the U.K. (and just missed the Top 20 in the United States) that same year. The duo, performing as Dave & Ansel Collins, followed it up with the almost as successful “Monkey Spanner” single, and a delightful album, known variously as Double Barrel and Heavy Heavy Monsters Sound of Dave & Ansel Collins, was released and remains a classic, genre-bending bit of rocksteady craziness.
Barker and Collins toured Britain extensively behind the album and its two big singles, and Barker chose to relocate to London, where he continues to make his home.