After his family relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan from Whitmore Lake, Michigan, Alexander attended Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor where he met brothers Ron and Scott Asheton. “Zander” (as Alexander was known) dropped out after 45 minutes on the first day of his senior year in 1965 to win a bet. Later in 1965 Ron sold his motorcycle and they went to England to see The Who and to “try and find The Beatles”.
Alexander and the Asheton brothers soon met Iggy Pop and formed The Stooges in 1967. Although Alexander was a total novice on his instrument, he was a quick learner and subsequently had a hand in arranging, composing and performing all of the songs that appeared on the band’s first two albums, The Stooges and Fun House. He is often credited by vocalist Iggy Pop and guitarist Ron Asheton in interviews with being the primary composer of the music for the Stooges songs “We Will Fall”, “Little Doll” (both on The Stooges), “Dirt” and “1970” (Fun House).
Alexander was fired from the band in August 1970 after showing up at the Goose Lake International Music Festival too drunk to play.
Alexander died of pulmonary edema in 1975 at the age of 27 in Ann Arbor after being admitted to a hospital for pancreatitis, which was linked to his drinking.
References in songs
Mike Watt mentions Alexander by name in his song, “The Angel’s Gate,” on his 2004 album The Secondman’s Middle Stand, by which time Watt had replaced Alexander in the reformed Stooges. At Watt’s first performance with the Stooges at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in May 2003, he wore a Dave Alexander t-shirt in tribute.
Iggy Pop namechecks Alexander in the spoken intro to “Dum Dum Boys” on his album The Idiot, saying:
“How about Dave?
OD’d on alcohol”