His first group was the Two Tones, formed with friends Brenton Matthews and Fathead, who recorded unsuccessfully forDuke Reid.Barker had a brief stint inWinston Riley's Techniques, singing alongside Riley andBruce Ruffin,and formed a duo withGlen Brownin the duoGlen and Dave, recording for bothHarry JandCoxsone Dodd, while also working in the pressing plant atStudio One.Brown introduced Crooks toLee "Scratch" Perry, suggesting that Perry get Crooks to voice a track at a recording session. The resulting track was "Prisoner of Love", and led to Crooks becoming a regular vocalist for Perry, who decided Crooks should record as Dave Barker, and encouraged American-styledeejayvocals in addition to Barker's usual high tenor singing.Barker had hit singles with "Shocks of a Mighty" and "Spinning Wheel" (with Melanie Jonas), followed in 1970 by his debut albumPrisoner of Love. Working with Perry at the same time asThe Wailers, Barker toasted over the latter's "Small Axe" for 1971's "Shocks 71". March 1971 brought international fame as part of a duo withAnsell Collins. "Double Barrel" was a number 1 hit in theUnited Kingdom, and was also the first recording on which drummerSly Dunbarplayed."Double Barrel" was followed in June of the same year with a number 7 UK hit in the form of "Monkey Spanner". The duo failed to sustain success in the UK, and Collins returned to Jamaica, with Barker settling in England and embarking once again on a solo career, releasing 1976'sIn The Ghetto, which while credited to Dave and Ansell Collins, was a solo effort.He then joined vocal group Chain Reaction along with Bruce Ruffin and Bobby Davis, targeting thesoulmarket, but without great success. Barker has continued to record, including a live album featuring Barker playing withThe Selecter.
In 2005 Dave Barker performed a couple of tracks with UK ska/ reggae band The Riffs at Club Ska in London. A version of Double Barrel (recorded with The Riffs) was released on The Riffs - Live at Club Ska album the following year on Moon Ska Records.
He appeared as a guest on The Radcliffe & Maconie BBC Radio 6 Music show on 20 August 2012 talking extensively about the music he was influenced by and the music had created alongside Ansell and about Jamaica's independence.