David Carroll's Biography

Dick and I (Tom) asked David to provide a bio and very reluctantly he did but he said little about his own achievements since David has never been comfortable talking about himself. Nevertheless, his style and humor are revealing so we decided to excerpt what he wrote, adding our own editorial comments, so that you could gain a glimpse of the man who has played such an important role in our lives.

Here are his own words: “I first heard the highly unlikely name, Smothers Brothers, at a business meeting at Mercury Records in Chicago in 1960. I had been in the employ of Mercury for some 15 years as an Artists and Repertoire Director (these days they are known as Record Producers for much more money). A report had come in that two brothers were creating much excitement (comedically, that is) at a small folk club in San Francisco called the Purple Onion. A sample dub of their performance was played and for some reason that I did not fully understand at the time, I volunteered to produce their album.”

David’s knowledge of music, expertise in the studio and steadying influence became invaluable to us. From that point on, we relied on him to produce all of our albums, four of which went gold. He was swamped with arranging and producing some singers and vocal groups who were pretty hot at that time, in addition to doing a series of instrumental albums of his own. The Diamonds, the Platters, Vic Damone, Sarah Vaughan and Patti Page were just a few of the acts he produced, as well as many of their hits such as “Lil’ Darlin’” by the Diamonds, “Shiboom” by the Crewcuts and all of the Platters’ hits. In addition, he produced and conducted over 25 instrumental albums of the David Carroll Orchestra, which could be regularly heard on the radio. Among the most popular of these recordings were “Fascination” and “Melody of Love.”

Moreover, David was a pioneer in stereo music with his album “Let’s Dance.” Prior to that, most stereo recordings were only of sound effects such as trains moving from one speaker to another. As a result of such innovation, David’s album is still considered by connoisseurs to be a hallmark in the industry and they refer to it today as an example of the best early stereo.

As David said, “I don’t pretend to know about the psychology of comedy as an art form (a serious subject). I had grown up thinking music was the only thing around (any kind of music). I had spent a few years as a musician in a show band in Chicago that backed all the big name comedians. Hearing them repeatedly, I became interested in what made their lines “work” or “not work” on a given night. I believe it was this experience that made me realize that even in the early stages of the Smothers Brothers’ career, it was their innate sense of timing that made the difference (it’s not easy being Dick when you don’t know when or what Tom will say next).

“Anyway, it’s many years later and it’s been an awesome learning experience that includes about everything in the book: Producer, Arranger, Conductor, Roadie, Personal Manager, Music Publisher and Curator. I’m grateful to them both.”

Aside from his other titles, David Carroll has been our mentor. Without him, Dickie and I firmly believe our success would not have been possible.

David and his wife, Helen, are retired and live in Los Angeles, CA.


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