Bickler was born in North Dakota,, moved to Willmar, Minnesota, and then graduated from Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois. His career began in 1968 as one of two lead singers and a musician in the early 1970s American rock group Jamestown Massacre. The group's single "Summer Sun" was a Billboard Top 100 and Easy Listening chart entry in the summer of 1972. Bickler met Jim Peterik while doing commercial jingles in the mid-1970s, leading to their future partnership in the band Survivor.
Bickler currently lives with his family in Chappaqua, a suburb of New York City.
On February 2, 2012, he appeared on The Colbert Report singing a passage from Newt Gingrich's book A Nation Like No Other to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger".
In 2009, Dave Bickler posted several new songs he was writing & recording for a future solo project via his Twitter account & website. As of October 2015, the songs have yet to be released.
In February 2017 it was announced that Bickler would appear at Rockingham Festival 2017, this to be held at Nottingham Trent University, UK, between 20th and 22nd October 2017, Bickler scheduled to appear on Saturday 21st.
Bickler is best known as an original member of Survivor from 1978 to 1983. He rejoined with Co-Founders Frankie Sullivan & Jim Peterik in 1993 staying until early 2000. He was a part of the group for their first four albums: Survivor, Premonition, Eye of The Tiger and Caught in the Game. Although primarily serving as the band's lead vocalist during this time, he is also credited with playing keyboards on Survivor's first two albums (including being the sole keyboardist on their debut album, before rhythm guitarist Jim Peterik began to take over the role on Premonition, although future releases would see Peterik replaced in-studio by session musicians).
Survivor experienced their big breakthrough in 1982, when they were asked by Sylvester Stallone to provide the theme song for his movie Rocky III. The song, "Eye of the Tiger", soon turned into one of the biggest hits of the band's career. It had an enormous impact on the Billboard charts, soaring to #1 for seven weeks. The song won the band a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, was voted "Best New Song" by the People's Choice Awards and received an Academy Award nomination. Thanks to the song's success and another Top 20 single, "American Heartbeat", the album Eye of the Tiger peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart. The song remains popular today. It came in at #18 on the "Top 100 Singles" chart in Billboard's 100th Anniversary issue and it is well over the 300,000 mark on the iTunes Store, where it once held #9 on their "Top Soundtrack" chart.
Bickler also can be heard on other Survivor singles including "Somewhere In America", "Rebel Girl", "Poor Man's Son", "Summer Nights", "The One That Really Matters", "American Heartbeat", "Caught In The Game" and "Ever Since the World Began" (this song has a version that was featured on the Lock Up movie soundtrack with the voice of Jimi Jamison).
Bickler left the band in late 1983 after he developed polyps on his vocal cords and required surgery and voice rest, a condition that would take a year and a half to recuperate from. Bickler was also unhappy about his lack of a bigger payday he felt was owed him for the multi-platinum success the band had from their hit album Eye of The Tiger released a year earlier. After leaving Survivor, Bickler continued recording with other groups in the Chicago area and doing commercial jingles and ads.
Bickler rejoined Survivor in early 1993 as lead vocalist for a Greatest Hits album on Scotti Bros. featuring two new songs "You Know Who You Are" and "Hungry Years" (which he co-wrote). Bickler recorded new music with the band in hopes of a new album, but ongoing lawsuits and trademark ownership issues with former singer Jimi Jamison halted the release.
Bickler was fired in early 2000 after a brief string of tour dates. On April 1, 2000, it was announced that for the second time Singer Jimi Jamison was the new lead singer of Survivor.
Bickler is credited with co-writing two songs on the Survivor album Reach with Frankie Sullivan: "I Don't" and "One More Chance".
In 2013, it was announced on Survivor's official media sources that guitarist Frankie Sullivan had reunited the current Survivor line-up with Dave Bickler again, with the band planning to have their two most well-known vocalists together for the next tour, Dave Bickler and Jimi Jamison. Following a year of touring together with Bickler in this lineup, Jamison died of a drug-induced stroke on August 31, 2014.
In March 2016 Bickler was again fired from Survivor.
Since 2000, Bickler has continued his venture in recording commercials and video advertisements. His singing is featured in the successful Budweiser Light "Real American Heroes" and "Real Men of Genius" ad campaign (the decision to change the campaign from Heroes to Genius was made after 9/11) singing plaintively in counterpoint to the wry commentary of voice actor Peter Stacker. Over 100 of these commercials have been recorded and broadcast on sports radio stations and events for over ten years. A handful of CDs from the Bud Light ads have been released and sold over 100,000 copies in its first three weeks of release. The release according to 'Pop Culture Tonight: with Patrick Phillips' February 2016 interview with Dave Bickler, sold 400,000 copies.Survivor (1979)
Eye of the Tiger (1982)
Caught in the Game (1983)
Greatest Hits (1993)
Fire Makes Steel Demos (1998)