born: San Antonio, Texas, December 15, 1914; died: January 15, 2002
A veteran western entertainer whose career spans seven decades, Red River Dave is best known as a prolific com-poser of topical, patriotic, and sentimental ballads.
A native of San Antonio, David McEnery toured the rodeo circuits as a youth, winning Texas championships at rope twirling and yodeling. With interest in singing cow-boys at a peak, McEnery began his broadcasting career in San Antonio and on BORDER RADIO before moving east in the mid-1930s. After performing on stations in Virginia and Florida, he landed a regular slot on WOR–New York, in 1938; the Mutual Radio Network fed his program to its nationwide affiliates.
Encouraged by songwriter-publisher Bob Miller, McEnery began writing and recording topical songs; "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight" became a country- folk standard. In May 1939 he sang on an experimental television broadcast at the New York World's Fair.
Returning to Texas after World War II, McEnery re-corded for numerous postwar labels, appeared in several low-budget westerns, and began performing over WOAI–San Antonio. He also cut transcriptions for Mexi-can border stations. McEnery was a popular San Antonio television personality through the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1967 he largely retired from music to concentrate on his real-estate business, although he continued producing self-accompanied topical singles on his own labels. He re-turned to music in the late 1970s in Nashville; he then moved to California, where he occasionally performed at Knott's Berry Farm near Anaheim. — Dave Samuelson