Born in 1947 in Franklin Town, Kingston, Dave made his initial mark on the local music scene in 1968, teaming up with singer, Glen Brown whose previous partner, Lloyd Robinson had moved on to work with Devon Russell. Glen & Dave went on to record a handful of sides for Clement Dodd (including "Lady With The Bright Light" and "Show Me The Way"), before cutting their 1968 Festival Song competition entry, "(Wake Up To) Reality" for Sonia Pottinger and "Lucky Boy" for Harry Johnson. They ceased recording together earlier the following year when Dave launched his solo career with "Prisoner Of Love", produced by Lee Perry. The song, which utilised the rhythm of a Reggae version of Clarence Carter's R&B hit, "Slip Away", proved an immediate favourite locally, as did subsequent releases for the producer, most notably "Shocks Of Mighty" and "Set Me Free", which later featured on Dave's debut album, "Prisoner Of Love" (CDTRL-127).
Later in 1969, Dave attended a one-off session for Duke Reid at the producer's famed Treasure Isle Studios in Bond Street, which resulted in "Lock Jaw" and "Funky Reggae", both of which helped maintain his growing reputation. Around this time Dave also found time to cut a number of soulful sides for Lloyd Charmers, including "Sweeter She Is", a version of The Bee Gees pop hit, "I Gotta Get A Message To You" and "Follow Your Heart (aka "What Should I Do"), a song which provided American R&B vocal group, The Manhattans with a hit in 1965.
Dave found himself constantly in demand throughout 1970 and one producer who was particularly successful in securing his services was Edward 'Bunnie' Lee. The producer used the singer's vocal talents to good effect on songs a series of releases, including his masterful interpretation of Jesse Belvin's "The Girl In My Dreams" (aka "Girl Of My Dreams"). Lee also utilized Dave's toasting skills on recordings such as "Wet Version", "I Got To Get Away" and "Don't Turn Your Back On Me", the original rhythms of which were respectively provided by Max Romeo's "Wet Dream", The Paragons' "I've Got To Get Away" and The Uniques' "The Beatitude: Blessed Are The Meek".
The other producer with whom Dave cut a substantial body of work during this period was Winston Riley, with the singer recording a number of excellent sides fronting The Techniques, a group which at this time also featured Bruce Ruffin and the producer himself. Among the best of these sides are "The Heart Of A Man", "You Ain't Got A Heart At All", "Your Love's A Game", "I Can Count The Days" (released in the UK as "Lonely Man") and "Love Love Love", a hit for both The Clovers and The Diamonds in 1956. It was a recording featuring Dave in the role of DJ, however, which was to bring by far the greatest commercial success. "Double Barrel" had originally been cut as an instrumental by keyboard player, Ansel Collins, who had also produced the track at Dynamic Studios before selling the recording to Riley. The producer subsequently arranged for Dave to add his vocal track at Joe Gibbs' studio and what resulted was a Reggae classic. The record became an instant hit in Jamaica late in 1970 and by March the following year, also began its ascent of the UK charts, where it finally peaked at the top position on 1st May. The record proved as popular throughout Europe and even managed to reach an impressive number 22 in the US Billboard chart a few months later.
The equally exuberant "Monkey Spanner", which had also originally been a Collins' instrumental, was released as a follow-up and although not quite matching the success of "Double Barrel", the record climbed to a respectable number seven in the British charts in the summer of 1971. One minor drawback created by the success of the records was a slight loss of identity for Dave, as both credited the artists as Dave & Ansel Collins, resulting in the assumption that the pair were related. To avoid confusion, the singer had little alternative but to take on his partner's surname, often recording thereafter as Dave Collins.
Throughout this period, Dave continued to prove his ability as a singer, recording sides such as his splendid version of the Jerry Butler hit, "Only The Strong Survive" (for Kismet Records) and a soulful interpretation of The Manhattans', "The One Love Forgot", released "Love Is What I Bring" on Rupie Edwards' Success label. Other material cut around this time included "It's Summer" (which had recently been a hit for The Temptations) and an updated version of The Techniques' Rocksteady favourite, "Travelling Man", both of which were produced by Riley. He also maintained his working relationship with Lee Perry, for whom he recorded a series of excellent sides, such as "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying", "Upsetting Station", "Shocks '71" (all included on "Roots Of A Legend", CDTAL-901) and "What A Confusion", on which Dave was accompanied by Bunny Wailer.
In the wake of his European chart success in 1971, Dave moved to Britain permanently, where over the next few years he recorded for a number of companies, including Trojan, Rhino and Island. Apart from his solo work, he also briefly reunited with Ansel Collins and formed the soul group, Chain Reaction with two fellow Jamaican ex-patriots, Bobby Davis and Bruce Ruffin. In the years since, Dave has remained a favourite on the Reggae circuit throughout Europe and Japan, where the resurgence of interest in vintage Jamaican sounds, has ensured his continued popularity.