Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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LINDLEY, David

(b 21 March 1944, Marino CA) Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, best known as one of the most accomplished session players in the USA in the 1970s-80s. His solo career has been notable for eclecticism, good music and little commercial success. In the 1960s he played with West Coast old-timey and string bands including Mad Mountain Ramblers and the Dry City Scat Band, who appeared on the String Band Project '65 on Elektra as well as recording for a local label. In 1966 he turned up with Kaleidoscope (see their entry). Lindley moved to the UK, worked with Terry Reid in the early '70s; in demand as a session player he worked with America, David Blue, Little Feat, Maria Muldaur, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Leo Sayer, Rod Stewart, Warren Zevon; he was best known for falsetto singing on 'Stay' from Jackson Browne's Running On Empty '78 and for work with Ry Cooder, on record, as a live duo in Asia and Australia and on The Long Riders soundtrack (1980).

His solo career began with El Rayo-X '81 and Win This Record! '82 on Asylum; live recordings (e.g. 'Mercury Blues'/'I'm A Hog For You Baby' on Elektra in France) testified to the power of El Rayo-X, as his band was known. He was dropped by the label in the USA, but Mr Dave '85 was on Asylum in Europe, where he had a loyal following and the kudos of having him on the label outweighed his lack of sales. He worked with Henry Kaiser on a series of Madagascan and Norwegian projects on Shanachie in the early 1990s. He teamed with percussionist Hani Naser for Official Bootleg on his own Pleemhead label; recorded live in Tokyo, it reprised a number of the songs long a part of his concert repertoire including 'Ain't No Way', 'Rag Bag', 'Tiki Torches At Twilight', Danny O'Keefe's 'More Than Eva Braun' and (inevitably) 'Mercury Blues'.

When he is on tour as a solo artist he is not to be missed. Famous for his deliberate bad taste in polyester shirts, he has an affectionate, slightly self-mocking stage presence; surrounded by half a dozen different stringed instruments, he plays the heck out of all of them.