Born David Darwin Pedruska, 3 May 1928, Spencer, Wisconsin Dave Dudley is the father of truck-driving country music. With his 1963 song "Six Days on the Road," he founded a new genre of country music, a variation of honky tonk and rock-inflected country that concentrated lyrically on the lifestyles of truck drivers. Dudley charted 41 country hits between 1961 and 1980, establishing himself as one of the most popular singers of his era. At the age of 11, Dudley's father gave him a guitar, but he had his heart set on being a baseball player. Throughout his teenage years he played ball, becoming a member of the Gainesville, Texas Owls as a young adult. However, his career was cut short by an arm injury. Following his retirement from baseball, he became a DJ at WTWT-Wausau in Wisconsin, where he would sometimes play along with the songs on the air. The station owner encouraged him to become a performer and Dudley followed the advice.
Dudley moved to Idaho in the early '50s, where he formed the Dave Dudley Trio, which didn't have much success in its seven years together. In 1960, following the breakup of the trio, he moved to Minneapolis, where formed a group called the Country Gentlemen, which quickly built up a dedicated following. His career was thrown off track in December of 1960, when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver as he was packing his guitar into his car. After a six-month recovery, he returned to the music scene, and managed to secure a record deal with Vee Records. His first single, "Maybe I Do," was minor hit in the fall of 1961 and it was followed by a Top 20 country hit, "Under Cover of the Night," the following year on Jubilee Records.
In the summer of 1963, he had his breakthrough hit, "Six Days on the Road," which was released on Golden Wing. The song became a massive success, peaking at # 2 on the country charts and # 32 on the Billboard pop charts. That same year, he signed with Mercury Records, releasing his first single for the label, "Last Day in the Mines," by the end of the year. Throughout the sixties, he had a long string of truck driving singles, including "Truck Drivin' Son-of-A-Gun," "Trucker's Prayer," "Anything Leaving Town Today, "There Ain't No Easy Run," and "Two Six Packs Away." By the end of the decade, he was also making conservative, good-old-boy anthems, as well.
During the early '70s, he had several hits - notably the 1971 Top Ten singles "Comin' Down" and "Fly Away Again" - but by the beginning of the '80s, he was no longer a presence on the charts. His last hit single was 1980's "Rolaids, Doan's Pills and Preparation H." Also in 1980, a German pop group called Truck Stop recorded a tribute to Dudley ("I Want to Hear More Dave Dudley"). During the '80s and '90s, Dudley didn't record much, but he remained a popular concert draw. And truck drivers still loved him - the Teamsters Union awarded him an honorary, solid gold membership card. (Adapted from All Music Guide)
All CD's that are currently in print contain re-recordings of "Six Days On The Road". Maybe this will change with the forthcoming release (on May 26) of "Truck Drivin' Son of a Gun" (Westside WESA 922).
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