What can be said about singer/crooner Tony David that hasn't been said before? We know with his vast knowledge of music: he is an accomplished, talented entertainer, has great control of his magnificent voice, thrills audiences with his charisma and charm, and all out delivers to his large Denver fan-base. Plus.... He loves to ride his Harley whenever he can; and stays true to his beliefs!
As the head of the band "WildFire", and owner of the WildFire Bistro, Tony says: "When I perform, I try to deliver the song the way the original performer sang it. I don't impersonate, I just try my best to imitate the song the way the artist sang it." Some of his favorite songs include hits from Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Englebert Humperdink, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, a variety of country singers, and a slew of other fan favorites.
Tony, who moved to Colorado in 1972, has been a singer/entertainer enjoying his passion for music his entire life and feels fortunate to share that passion with Denver audiences for over 20 years. Tony is also considered an expert in the Telecommunications Industry and has been working with a variety of companies for over 30 years.
Add his dedication to nonprofits such as TAPS (Tragic Assistance Programs for Survivors), devotion to his family and fans, and just being a caring all around "nice guy", we hope Tony will be a favorite staple in the world of Denver entertainment for years to come.
(I found Tony David to be one of the most honest & authentic people out there.... especially in the Entertainment Business. He is strong, but so concerned about people & quite sentimental. I wanted all of this to come through and didn't edit much of Tony's Q&A, as to leave our readers with the essence of who this wonderful man is.)
How would you describe the “experience” your audience has when they watch & hear you sing?
I have been told that my band WildeFire is truly the closest to the original artist sound that they have heard. They love the excitement and the style of music we perform. We take our fans on a trip back in time when the music stirs up all sorts of emotions i.e. Happier times, songs that took people back to their 1st Kiss, 1st Love, their 1st heartbreak, the day they got married, songs they named their kids after (Aubrey, Annie’s song, Donna, Carolyn, Danny’s Song), and yes music that was played with saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed. I love it when they tell me what the music means to them. Music triggers such emotion and tugs at the heart strings. I love it when they come on stage to listen to us sing because they thought we were "lip syncing", and I love it when they say you sounded just like the artist who performed the song.
Tony, we know you are a big Elvis fan and have heard you sing his music…. Did you ever see him perform live? What are some of your favorite Elvis songs? What do you think was the main reason Elvis' life got so out of control?
I grew up listening to Elvis; he lived in Memphis and I lived 86 miles from Memphis. Carl Perkins wrote the song “Blue Suede Shoes” in 1955. It was more of a "rockabilly style", and it made the charts. But then Carl had Elvis record the song, and he took it #1 on the Hit Parade. Carl Perkins is from my home town in Jackson, TN. Carl’s son, Greg Perkins was my best friend growing up. Therefore, I knew a lot about the music and Elvis, though I never saw him in person. However, I did meet Eddie Arnold “The Tennessee Plow Boy”, his brother was my barber in Jackson. I love Eddie Arnold music as well. I have had many music influences, but none like Elvis.
I believed that Elvis’ number one down fall was that he wanted to always please his fans and went out of his way to do this for them. He never really understood why they loved him so much, all he knew was he wanted to please everyone and this wore him out. The fact that he had people around him all the time, he really never had time to himself. I also think he never got over the loss of his mother, and this took a major toll on him as well.
The first song I ever performed in front of a live audience was “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. This was the song that launched my singing career. That is another story in its self. Bottom line is, I won a contest here in Denver that lead me down the path of becoming a local entertainer and from knowing one song by heart to now over 1,500 songs and 3 shows a week.... on average.
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a singer?
I never thought I was a singer, but I always knew I would love it. I was in a musical when I was in the 9th grade “Sound of Music,” and I played the role of Rolf Gruber. I was as far away from being German, as Elizabeth Warren is from being a Native American - hah! The song I sang in the musical was “You are 16 going on 17,” and I was scared out of my mine. But I pulled it off and thought, wow it would be great to be an entertainer. But baseball and football ruled my teenage years. I was the 1st freshman at Godby HS in Tallassee, Florida to ever make the Varsity HS baseball team, and this took me away from music. So I focused on baseball. I lived in Tallassee for 2 ½ years. Then moved to Denver in 1972.
What was your first lucky break?
I have had many lucky breaks, but if you are referring to music, in 1994 I was with a buddy of mine who is the lead singer in the "Walker Williams Band". We were at a club named “Aunt Evelyn’s” in Aurora. This was the original site of the then Aurora Summit Restaurant on the corner of Yale and Parker before they moved to Yale and Havana. The band playing was "The Glass Menagerie". They were having a karaoke contest, and the winner of the 7 week contest was awarded the prize to Las Vegas to sing one song with The Fortunes (their claim to fame was “You’ve Got your Troubles”, “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” and “Here it Comes Again”). They were performing at the Star Dust Lounge as the house band, and I got to sing the song “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” with them. When I returned to Denver, the leader of "The Glass Menagerie" asked me if I would do their breaks when they move over the Aurora Summit Steak House. When Wayne Lapp opened the new location at the corner of Yale and Havana, I of course said yes, but I only knew the 7 songs I had to sing to win the contest. Well Danny Dale gave me a list of songs to learn, and I went from 7 songs to over 1500 songs. I sang with the Glass for 10 years, and I had a blast. After Jim Purcell passed away (he was the front man for the band), I started my own show as a soloist. Became pretty popular in local circles, then formed the Vocal Band “WildeFire”. This has afforded me the honor to perform with numerous entertainers such as Michael Martin Murphey, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Gary Morris, Pat Boone, The Fortunes; and shared the stage and opened for singers such as Pam Tillis, Richie McDonald (Lead singer for Lone Star), Darryl Worley, Eddie Raven, and many more. It also lead me to perform in Washington, DC for many of our Military Official’s such as Chairman of the Joint Chief’s General Joseph Dunford, General George Dempsey, new Chairman Joint Chief Mark A. Milley, General Robert Neller, and many more dignitaries. I have performed for Sarah Palin (US VP Candidate) twice, VP Dick Cheney, Mike Coffman, Dean Singleton's Private Party, Robert Sweeney's 50th wedding anniversary, Pete Coors, Jake Jabs, Don & Arlene Johnson, Colorado First Lady Frances Owens, and many more. I have a Cruise Named after me sponsored by AAA Colorado on Celebrity Cruise Line called the “Tony David WildeFire Cruise.” This year will be my second annual cruise that now happens every August. We are going to Bermuda!
So my first lucky break lead me to some of the greatest pleasures of my life which included my dream to own my Supper Club "WildeFire Bistro". In a nutshell, I have performed to tens of thousands of people over the course of my 25 plus year singing career. I have to say that performing with the "Nashville Singer Songwriters" who have attended TAPS over the past 14 years has been an honor as well. My lucky break has been, and still is one heck of a ride, and a dream come true!
What keeps you motivated and energetic enough to perform as often as you do? It's hard not to be motivated and have fun as long as the other performers are having fun. My group does a fabulous job engaging the audience. You can't get out of the club without clapping along, and possibly even singing along!
What kind of music do you listen to on your own time?
I love Big Band music. The American Classics, the crooners of the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s.... Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Englebert Humperdinck etc..
You have a talent for bringing people together. Has opening up your own place made that easier?
The biggest plus is having a club where all my fans and friends can come to whenever they want to hear great music in a safe and friendly atmosphere, where they all feel at home, and they know they are getting some of the best vocalists in Colorado on stage singing their favorite songs and performing the songs the way they were written and performed by the original artist.
What are some of the challenges of owning your own club?
Keeping the cost down while trying to make a profit. Also trying to please everyone. This is an impossible task as much as I love it, it can’t be done. LOL. Everyone says they are a friend of mine, and they should be treated differently than the average customer. They don’t realize how many friends I have, and they all say: “Well I have been a fan for years, and Tony will say it’s ok!” This happens every single day. I love them all, but sometimes it gets very trying.
When you are performing…. How do you know you are reaching your audience?
I can tell by the first song if they love us or not. When the dance floor gets crowded on the very first note we sing. Or when someone new is in the audience for the first time and they stop what they are doing and turn around and listen. I love it when they pull out their cell phones and start taking pictures or recording us. I engage the audience in every single show that I do. I make sure I know who all the newcomers are by mixing with them during a song when I can come off the stage with my mic in hand and just sit down at their table and sing to them. I make sure they feel welcomed and appreciated. If they invest the time to come see us, then I invest the time to get to know them and make them fans. Everyone wants to feel at home and part of something. So I ensure that happens.
What was the toughest time you’ve had during your career?
Over the years, I have become friends with so many people old and young alike. When they pass and I am asked to sing at their funeral or celebration of life, I get very emotional. I have sung over 30 to 40 times at these sad events, and they are never easy. I have lost many friends over the past 25 plus years. Last year alone, I performed at 5 of these heartbreaking events. They never get easier.
How did you find your strength to get beyond those tough times?
The strength in getting though these times is my faith in God and knowing my friends are in a better place, and I have made their family members and loved ones remember the good times and what certain songs meant the most to them. They all have a favorite song, and it is always requested. Music touches so many places in your soul and it stirs up many emotions. What else really does that?
What actual (name of) songs are most special to you, and why?
"Can’t help falling in love".... my very first song that I ever sang, which lead me down this path.
"Love is a many Splendor Thing".... How I feel about love and how filled with splendor it really is.
"Christmas in Dixie".... Being from the South, this song captures my memories of Christmases in Tennessee.
"Flies on the Butter".... If you grew up in the South, this song captures ever childhood memory you have. Fireflies, Manson Jars, Old Dogs napping on the front porch, Grandma baking sugar cookies, licking the spoon, Old Tin Roofs, watermelons, yellow jacket, honeysuckle in the air, kids running through the sprinklers in their underwear, your attempt at a first kiss, and falling asleep on Granddaddy’s lap listening to his pocket watch ticking.
"American Trilogy".... This song pulls the emotions of both the North and the South, then pulls it all together with the "Glory of God".
Lastly.... "How Great Thou Art" – self-explanatory.
You are now a grandfather…. Tell us how it has changed your life?
Being a Grandfather has taught me all the things I did wrong as a father and gives me the second chance to correct all the things I did wrong with my own kids. I pass it down and try to show by example, and to love with no conditions.
What other nonprofits, besides TAPS, have you supported through the years? Make a Wish Colorado, Green Beret Foundation, Combat Vets Motorcycles Association, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer, & the Denver Assistance League. With my band, we have peformed at a number of charity fundraising benefits.
How do you find balance in life?
As busy as I am, and with all the responsibilities that come with it, I have to ground myself and spend time with, Dani, my wife. She is the most grounded person I know. She understands me and all I try to do and just gives me her love no matter what we are going through. I can truly say she is my rock and keeps my crazy life all together.
Where do you see yourself in the future…. Let’s say 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
Well, 5 years from now, I would hope that I have helped or made a difference in many peoples' lives by giving them my love and friendship and helping them through whatever challenges they have. There is nothing more I could ask for myself because I have had a blessed life.... even with all my failures. I have learned from each and every one of them. I will continue to give all I can to help my fellow man and make sure my family knows how much I love them. Between now and 10 years, I would love to run for public office where I think I could really make a difference.
What have you learned about yourself through your years of performing?
The biggest lesson I have learned is everyone is the same more or less. We all have our crosses to bare, and we all just want to feel as if we belong to something or someone. We don’t want to be forgotten, and we want to be loved for who we are and how we tried to make a difference in someone’s life.
What will your legacy be? How do you want to be remembered?
This is a tough one. A legacy is the fundamental to what it is to be human: "He never lost the love of life and the love of music which brought joy to so many. Where ever his journey took him, he made it a little better than the way he found it."
I would like to be remembered.…"He was a good man who tried to always do what was right and always tried to give to others."