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| Dave Dudley
(born David Darwin Pedruska, May 3, 1928, Spencer, WI) is the
father of truck driving country music. With his 1963 song
"Six Days on the Road,"
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 had a string of Top 15 singles
that ran through the '60s, while he continued to have Top 40 hits
well into the '70s, 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 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 a local Texas station,
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
he 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 several months, he
recovered and managed to secure a record deal with Vee Records.
His first single, "Maybe I Do," was a minor hit in the
fall of 1961 and was followed by another minor 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 number two on the country charts and
making the pop Top 40. 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 '60s,
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." 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. Dudley died of a heart
attack at his Wisconsin home on December 12, 2003.
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