A conversation with former 500 Club Emcee Dave Boyer
WASHINGTON, August 7, 2017 –Since 1966, Dave Boyer’s unique style of Big Band Gospel music has reached people of all ages. His ministry and testimony has opened up doors for hundreds of youth programs all over the US.
But before Dave Boyer’s ministry through music, his alter ego Joey Stevens was a popular entertainer in the 500 Club, an Atlantic City nightclub.
Today Boyer’s ministry and musical style are continuing to gain popularity with people from all walks of life in all age groups as he appears with church bands, orchestras, and solo.
He has performed and recorded several albums with legendary composer and director Ralph Carmichael. Boyer has performed at the White House for President’s Ford, Carter, and Reagan.
The 500 Club (Atlantic City) during its heyday in the 1950’s & 1960’s
Sitting down with Dave Boyer was not only interesting, it was reaffirming.
CDN: Mr. Boyer, we appreciate your giving us this opportunity to speak with you.
Dave Boyer: It’s my pleasure.
CDN: How many siblings did you have growing up?
Dave Boyer: My parents (Rev. Ralph & Anna Boyer) had two daughters (Betty and Nancy) and four sons (Eugene, Dan, Jerry and me).
CDN: What was it like in a family centered around church life?
Dave Boyer: My dad was the pastor of our local church. We were a musical family and traveled to sing at many churches in my earlier years. I was a vocalist and also played the saxophone.
CDN: What happened to change your focus?
Dave Boyer: My parents were loving, and treated me and my siblings with respect. However, in my early teens, I developed a passion for rock and roll. The more I listened to it, the less I wanted to sing church hymns. I finally reached a point where I told my parents that I no longer wanted to accompany the family on revival excursions.
They were hurt and disappointed, but they did not force me to continue.
CDN: Where did your journey for the night club life have its start?
Dave Boyer: I started in my hometown of York, PA at Lincoln Woods Supper Club. Paul “Skinny” D’Amato was my first mentor. From there, I was given an opportunity to Emcee at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, NJ.
CDN: After your start there, you did a brief stint in the military, didn’t you?
Dave Boyer: Yes, I served in the Army. But I never had to travel overseas. I was stationed in Georgia and performed with the Army band (which was an excellent ensemble). The troops loved our performances.
The following is a short video excerpt from Dave’s life story “So Long Joey”:
CDN: How did you meet your wife (June)?
Dave Boyer: We were both in the Army, and were introduced to each other through a mutual friend. We hit it off and were married several months later.
CDN: How exciting was it for you amidst the celebrities (Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and others)?
Dave Boyer: It’s hard to put it into words, after all I was not even 20 years old when I started at the 500 Club. I felt that I had the world in the palm of my hands.
But along with that came a slow but progressive desire and addiction to alcohol, drugs and lascivious living. It took control and became an overwhelming part of my life.
CDN: How did things change?
Dave Boyer: We had our daughter (Junie) early in our marriage, and I was not a good dad or father. Because my life was becoming more dependent on drugs and alcohol, it made it easier for me to become abusive to my wife physically and mentally.
The abuse was so bad that she secretively moved out (while I was working at the 500 Club). But that was just the start of the downward spiral
CDN: How rough did it get?
Dave Boyer: A day before his death, my dad, the Rev. Boy, told a close friend of his that he believed that I would eventually surrender my life to the LORD. I did not know of this until several years after my father’s death. The news of my dad’s death, coupled with the sadness of having lost my wife and daughter (through my own irresponsible behavior) sent me into a deep depression.
I hit rock bottom and then decided that I wanted to end my life (suicide). I decided to go to the nearby train tracks and wait for a train to pass by, then step in front of it. As I was on my way there, I passed by a little church.
This church brought back memories of my Christian upbringing, and also of my parents’ prayers for me. Suddenly, my feelings of depression and suicide were transformed into a desire to live. I the I then ran off my path toward the train and made my way to that little church.
Once there, I fell on my knees and cried out to God. I then went to a phone booth and called my older brother (Eugene) and said: “Gene, it’s over… I’m checking out!” Gene replied: “You’re stoned or high—what are you talking about?” I then said: “I’m checking out of this miserable life! I want to give my life to the LORD!”
My brother then came to where I was and led me in a sinner’s prayer. I then surrendered to the LORD, once and for all!
CDN: Didn’t your former friends still want you to sing in the night clubs?
Dave Boyer: Well, after they learned that my life had been given to the LORD, one of them called me and asked if I would sing at the night club. He said: “You can sing a little hymn if you want to, but just go ahead and do it.”
After pausing on the phone for about 30 seconds to a minute I replied: “Joey Stevens is DEAD!”
CDN: Have you regretted selling out 100% to what you felt was the LORD’s leading for your life?
Dave Boyer: Absolutely not! My passion is to sing for the praise of God. I will continue to do so until the LORD tells me to stop, or calls me home to glory.
CDN: How often do you travel?
Dave Boyer: My ministry takes me across the country to various churches, ministries and organizations every month of the year. If a church or group wants me to sing for them, they can contact me directly through the website. It’s pretty straightforward and easy.
CDN: How does someone obtain your unique life story, or your music CD’s?
Dave Boyer: You may purchase the full-length video of my life story “So Long Joey,” as well as exclusive music ministry CD’s through our ministry.
CDN: You and your wife reside in a location that some consider a well-kept secret down there in Florida. How do you like it?
Dave Boyer: Yes, it’s true that our community (The Villages) is mainly for adults who are empty nesters. But it is by no means a retirement home! Our neighbors are active, and many are still working in their businesses or professions.
The Villages is upscale, and is an actual town with its own zip code. We love it here; everyone respects and looks out for their neighbor.
CDN: Before closing, tell us about your family.
Dave Boyer: I am so thankful to the LORD for giving me a wife who is a godly woman, and is my very best friend. She has been a blessing and has been a source of strength that God has used to help me stay focused. I love my wife June dearly. I also have a daughter (Junie) who is the mother of our beautiful granddaughter (Jaclyn), and they too are a blessing. All in all, my family is a constant reminder of God’s love!
CDN: Mr. Boyer, on behalf of COMDIGINEWS and your fans everywhere, thank you for giving us this opportunity to get your special, personal perspective on your most interesting life.
Dave Boyer: Again, my pleasure. I have appreciated the opportunity.
Bill Randall is a staff writer for COMDIGINEWS. He and his wife reside in Dallas, TX.