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REMEMBERING “FRIDAY NITE” DAVE OLKA

Filed under: Music, Obituary
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On Tuesday, April 5, 2011 Western New York native David Olka passed away after a five-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years old.

Dave was known to his friends as “Friday Nite” Dave, a name given to him by the employees of Elmwood Avenue’s Play It Again Sam record store (later Home of the Hits) in 1979 as he would arrive like clockwork every Friday evening to spend his paycheck on 1960s rock, British Invasion, and garage band LPs.

During this time he met local musician Bernie Kugel, who became his lifelong friend. Dave would go on to manage Bernie’s band the Good and finance their 1980 single “Walk Around The World,” along with the subsequent 4×2 EP with the Good and Mike Brydalski. (He also went on to manage legendary new wave titans Brutus and the Senators and the Pinheads).

It was Dave’s relationship with Bernie put him at ground zero for Buffalo’s underground music groundswell, bouncing between Play It Again Sam and punk clubs like McVan’s and The Shuper House to see bands like the Jumpers, the Vores, and the Detours, often recording their sets on his reel-to-reel tape machine. Dave also became very involved with Tommy Calandra and BCMK Records, hosting a radio show for the label and lending his expertise on a variety of projects.

As time went on, Dave’s serious record collecting “hobby” turned into a business. In 1983, he opened the Record Mine on Delaware in the heart of Kenmore. For the next 12  years he sold used records and the latest local records. His store became a touchstone for the emerging Kenmore scene including Mark Freeland, the Ramrods, and Green Jello, to name a few. It was very right place/ right time, he was at “ground zero” again.

In the mid 1980s he became a friend, fan, and “one-man booster” of a then unknown band called the Goo Goo Dolls. When he first heard them he said to anyone within shouting distance that these guys were going to have a number one record. Some eight years later, his seemingly outrageous claims proved right. Over his entire life he never stopped pushing the Goos on everyone he met.

In 1989 he became one of the founding members of the Buffalo Record Show in Cheektowaga. Over 20 years later it is still going.

Music was his lifelong passion. He loved local music history and learning about the 1960s local bands like Raven, the Twiggs, the Tweeds, etc. “No one had more love for all different types of Buffalo music than Dave Olka,” said Bernie Kugel, “and he didn’t care if he was making money off of it as much as promoting and turning people on to music he loved.”

He lived his entire life in Tonawanda until last year, when he moved to Florida to marry his high school sweetheart, Kathy. His body was cremated and his ashes will be scattered at Cocoa Beach in Florida. He will be greatly missed by the local music community. He is survived by his wife Kathy and two children.

buffalogrooves@buffalo.com


  • R.T.Momberger

    Rock on my friend

  • Amy Lake

    A Beautiful Tribute.

  • Ed Draves

    Dave was a mentor and guide to the youth of Kenmore during those years as well. Aside from advice about music, he was also quick to help in personal matters too. He left a positve impact on dozens of lives just by “being Dave”.

  • shelley

    you will live on in our memories and hearts .. RIP Friday Night Dave xo …

  • Colleen

    Thank you for remembering Dave.
    Kathy is my sister and I knew Dave almost 40 + years.
    Going to his house, hanging out and just listening to all the music he had was amazing. He would always know “the” band, “the” music, before anyone else.
    When he and my sister reunited, it was a very happy time for both. Dave will be missed.

  • Linda Stein

    RIP David… ROCK ON My friend!!

  • Rest in peace, Dave. There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you.

    Thank you ArtVoice for the remembrance.

  • matthew olka

    RIP dad, I love you and I will miss you so much, thank you for posting this, music really was a big part of his life and I hope every one that new him had the same pleasure that I did, truly the best man I ever new

  • From Combat Studios our deepest sympathies at this time of need.

    Life is eternal and love is immortal; And death is only a horizon, And a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. – Rossiter W. Raymond

  • Michael Alexander

    RIP from another at Combat Studios. My family is truly sorry for this loss and the impact it is having on so many people. He sounds like an amazing man, and the world will be a little less bright without him. Stay strong.

  • R.i.p. u beautiful gifted man <3 n sympathy 2 all Xx