September 3, 2017 – Dave Hlubek was born on August 28, 1951 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 5 or 6, Hlubek and his family moved to the naval base in Oahu, Hawaii, where he attended Waikiki Elementary School. From there, Hlubek’s father was transferred and the family moved to Sunnyvale, California, then to Mountain View, and finally settling in San Jose. It was the South Bay that Dave called home during the next few years, before moving back to Jacksonville, Florida, around 1965. There he attended and graduated from Forrest High School.
Hlubek, founded the band Molly Hatchet in 1971. Vocalist Danny Joe Brown joined in 1974, along with Steve Holland, guitarist in 1974. Duane Roland, Banner Thomas and Bruce Crump completed the line up in 1976.
Hlubek was the original vocalist when they started, as well as becoming the band’s most prolific songwriter—writing or co-writing the majority of the group’s songs, including their most famous, “Flirtin’ with Disaster”. When they finally got their recording contract with Epic Records, they got some help and advice from Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, who was originally supposed to produce their first album, which never happened because of his death in a plane crash in October 1977. While most people tagged Molly Hatchet as “Southern Rock,” Hlubek admits it was only because of their location. He considered Molly Hatchet, along with Blackfoot, to actually be heavy metal bands from the South.
In fact, he has also said that, although hard to talk about, it was the demise of Lynyrd Skynyrd—who were on top of the world at that time—that opened the door for Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot.
Molly Hatchett had a decade of recording and worldwide touring under their belt when in 1987, Hlubek was replaced by lead guitarist Bobby Ingram. Hlubek—by his own admission being “unbearable” due to rock star excess and substance abuse—left the band. “I had a horrendous, horrendous cocaine problem”.
Hlubek then found himself at rock bottom and unemployed. His close friend Mazz moved him out of Jacksonville to Port St. Lucie, Florida, offering him moral support and many years of employment. Acting as Hlubek’s personal manager, Mazz negotiated recording sessions and gigs and created bands featuring Hlubek.
These included: Hlubek & Friends, Southern Jam Band, and the Southern Rock Legends (with the latter including former members of both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot). After getting his life back together, Hlubek also worked with other bands including the Dixie Allstars, renamed Southern Rock Allstars which he co-founded with Blackfoot drummer Jakson Spires.
In 2003, he joined forces with former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mike Estes, his drummer Kurt Pietro and Finnish musician Pontus J. Back when Estes and Back founded the band Skinny Molly. In January 2005, Ingram invited Hlubek to rejoin Molly Hatchet to give legitimacy to Ingrams tribute band version. Due to health issues from a lifetime living on the edge, Dave Hlubek had slowed down with touring and flying. He was still an active member recording and playing when he was able, until his death.
In addition to writing the such hits as “Flirtin’ with Disaster”, “Gator Country”, Whiskey Man”, and “Fall of the Peacemakers” that Molly Hatchet is known for, Hlubek is also credited with writing several soundtracks. These include feature films such as Monster starring Charlize Theron, The Dukes of Hazzard, Suspect Zero, and Delta Farce. Dave Hlubek has seven gold and platinum-selling albums with sales totaling about 24 million.
He died of a heart attack on September 3, 2017, at the age of 66.