Dave Alvin

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Dave Alvin
Dave Alvin Eleven Eleven.jpg
Alvin in 2011
Background information
Birth nameDavid Albert Alvin
Born (1955-11-11) November 11, 1955 (age 63)
OriginDowney, California, U.S.
GenresAmericana, alternative country, roots rock, punk rock, rockabilly, country rock, folk rock
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, music producer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1980–present
LabelsRhino, Yep Roc
Associated actsThe Blasters
The Knitters
The Flesh Eaters
Jimmie Dale Gilmore

David Albert Alvin (born November 11, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer and poet. He is a former and founding member of the roots rock band the Blasters. Alvin has recorded and performed as a solo artist since the late 1980s and has been involved in various side projects and collaborations. He has had brief stints as a member of the bands X and the Knitters.

Early life[edit]

Alvin grew up in Downey, California. He and his older brother, Phil Alvin, as teenagers attended rockabilly and country music venues and listened to the music of Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, and others.[1] Dave attended Long Beach State University.[2]


In 1979, Alvin and his brother Phil formed the roots rock band The Blasters with fellow Downey residents Bill Bateman and John Bazz.[1][3] Alvin served as the group's lead guitarist and chief songwriter.[3] As such he is responsible for Shakin' Stevens's British-German 1980 top 20 hit "Marie, Marie" (see his album Marie, Marie (This Ole House)). Despite a growing fan base in the United States and Europe, Alvin left the band in 1986 and became the lead guitarist of the Los Angeles–based alternative rock band X. He left X in 1987 to work on a solo project after the group recorded their album See How We Are. Alvin became a member of the country-folk band The Knitters and appeared on their 1985 album Poor Little Critter on the Road and their 2005 follow-up, The Modern Sounds of the Knitters.[1]

In the early 1980s Alvin, along with fellow Blasters members Bill Bateman and Steve Berlin, performed on several albums by the Los Angeles punk band the Flesh Eaters. Alvin also played with the Gun Club and appeared on two songs from their 1984 album, The Las Vegas Story.[1]


Alvin's first solo album, Romeo's Escape (entitled Every Night About This Time in England), was released in 1987. It was well received by critics but did not sell well. Because of the album's low sales, Alvin's recording contract with Columbia Records was terminated. He then toured with Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana, billed as the Pleasure Barons; an album recorded live on their 1993 tour was released.[1]

In 1989, Dwight Yoakam recorded Alvin's song "Long White Cadillac".[1] Alvin's second solo album, Blue Blvd, was released by Hightone Records in 1991. It received positive reviews and had moderate sales. His album Museum of Heart was released in 1993. He recorded King of California, an album of acoustic music, in 1994. In 2000, he recorded the album Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land, a collection of traditional folk and blues classics, which earned him a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.[1]

Alvin in 2005

In 2011, Alvin recorded the album Eleven Eleven, released by Yep Roc Records. The album marked his return to rock roots.[4] Rolling Stone magazine, in a review of the album, called Alvin "an underrecognized guitar hero".[4]

Further recordings with Phil Alvin[edit]

In 2014, Dave and Phil Alvin, as a duo, released the album Common Ground, consisting of their versions of songs by Big Bill Broonzy[5] It was the first studio collaboration of the brothers since the mid-1980s.[6][7] In 2015 they released Lost Time, a collection of covers including four songs by Big Joe Turner.[8]

Producer and collaborator[edit]

Alvin has produced records for Chris Gaffney, Tom Russell, the Derailers, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. He collaborated with the rockabilly musician Sonny Burgess.[1] He has worked as a studio session musician accompanying Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Little Milton, Katy Moffatt, and Syd Straw.[1]


Alvin appeared in the movies Border Radio and Floundering and on the FX television series Justified in 2011. He also appeared in Streets of Fire, with the Blasters, in 1984.[9]


Alvin has published two books of poetry: Any Rough Times Are Now Behind You and Nana, Big Joe & the Fourth of July. His poetry has appeared in Caffeine, the A.K.A. Review, Rattler, Asymptote and Enclitic and in the anthologies Nude Erections, Hit and Run Poets and Poetry Loves Poetry—An Anthology of Los Angeles Poets.

The Blasters discography[edit]

(recordings with Dave Alvin as member)

  • American Music (1980)
  • The Blasters (1981)
  • Over There (1982)
  • Non Fiction (1983)
  • Hard Line (1985)
  • The Blasters Collection (1990)
  • Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (2002)
  • The Blasters Live: Going Home (2004)

The Blasters videography[edit]

X discography[edit]

The Knitters discography[edit]

  • Poor Little Critter on the Road (1985)
  • The Modern Sounds of the Knitters (2005)

Dave Alvin discography[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions
US Country
US Heat
US Indie
1987 Romeo's Escape (also released as Every Night About This Time) 60 116
1991 Blue Blvd
1993 Museum of Heart
1994 King of California
1996 Interstate City
1998 Blackjack David
2000 Public Domain
2002 Out in California
Outtakes in California
2004 Ashgrove 38
2005 The Great American Music Galaxy
2006 West of the West 24 35
2007 Live from Austin, TX: Austin City Limits
2009 Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women
2011 Eleven Eleven 159 4 31
2014 Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy (with Phil Alvin) 144 3 25
2015 Lost Time (with Phil Alvin) 8 32
2018 Downey to Lubbock (with Jimmie Dale Gilmore)[14] 41 2 12
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Other contributions[edit]

  • Lead guitar on "Believe" and "Amazing Disgrace" on Dollar Store's Dollar Store (Bloodshot Records BS-098) (2004)
  • Eklektikos Live (2005) – "Blackjack David"
  • Highway 61 Revisited Revisited, UNCUT (2005) – "Highway 61 Revisited"
  • The Lone Ranger: Wanted (2013) – "Lonesome Whistle"


  • Nana, Big Joe & the Fourth of July (Iliteratim 1986) ASIN B000V96DW4
  • Any Rough Times Are Now Behind You (Incommunicado Press, 1996) ISBN 9781884615092


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Demming, Mark. Dave Alvin: Biography. AllMusic.com.
  2. ^ Barabak, Mark Z. (June 3, 2011). "Troubadour of Troubled Times". Los Angeles Times Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Sullivan, Denise. "Artist Biography: The Blasters". AllMusic.com.
  4. ^ a b Scherman, Tony (June 21, 2011). "Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven". Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ Gallo, Phil (February 19, 2014). "Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Talk 'Common Ground' Album, Premiere 'All By Myself' Song: Listen Exclusively". Billboard. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  6. ^ Dougherty, Steve (May 29, 2014). "A Torn-Up Band of Brothers, Finally on the Mend". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Lewis, Randy (June 6, 2014). "Dave and Phil Alvin, Former Blasters Mates, Resurrect Partnership". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  8. ^ Cohen, Elliot Stephen (March 2016). "Dave Alvin: Return of the Battlin' Brothers". Vintage Guitar. p. 24.
  9. ^ "Dave Alvin: Filmography". IMDb.com.
  10. ^ "Dave Alvin Chart History (Top Country Albums)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Dave Alvin Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Dave Alvin Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "Dave Alvin Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard.
  14. ^ Horowitz, Hal (May 29, 2018). "Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Downey To Lubbock". American Songwriter.

Further reading[edit]

  • Stambler, Irwin & Lyndon. (2001) Folk & Blues: The Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 4–7. ISBN 0-312-20057-9

External links[edit]