When Dave's family relocated to Atlanta, his exposure to soul music and r&b began to supplement his blues and dixie background, and a Fender bass got him jobs in several area bands. After high school graduation (during which he produced and participated in a Beatles act), he enrolled as a journalism major at Georgia State College and formed the Majestics to play horn-driven r&b, and the band worked the college circuit initially before finding employment at Atlanta's top chitlin circuit venue, the Royal Peacock. There, the Majestics backed Carla Thomas, William Bell, The Tams, Billy Stewart and appeared with a young Aretha Franklin and began to secure occasional session work. However, before the band could hit full stride, the Viet Nam draft began pulling members, and soon Dave was in the Air Force as an intelligence specialist and on his way to Saigon.
During his tour in Viet Nam, Dave found solace in a GI soul band called the Rotations, with members coming and going as their tours completed. During this period, he made the decision to become a full-time musician after the service, and following his reassignment to Langley AFB, Virginia (where he played at rough backwoods jukes in a band called the Empacts), he mustered out and enrolled as an arranging and composition major at Berklee College Of Music in Boston with guitar as his instrument.