Truckers' Anthem Singer
Wanna-Be Big Cheese
Little David Darwin Pedruska, born May 3, 1928 in Spencer, Wisconsin grew up preparing what many boys dream of attaining: becoming a baseball star. He progressed to the point where he was playing farm clubs like the Gainesville, Texas Owls. Unfortunately by the time he was really ready to pursue this goal seriously, actually contract in hand with the Chicago White Sox, the twenty-two year old Dave hurt his arm and his career with a torn muscle.
Your Day Job
Country music, once a hobby, playing guitar since he was eleven, became his new employment opportunity. His first stint in music was disc jockeying for a little Texas station, whose owner hearing Dave sing along, prompted him to go professionally. Moving to Idaho, and after some encouraging reviews from his live radio there, he gathered together the Dave Dudley Trio in 1953. These guys struggled for an unlucky seven years. To add to his woes he got another scare in 1960 while putting away his gear in his car after a Minneapolis gig and was seriously hurt by a hit and run automobile. He was laid up recuperating for many months, but managed finally to score a couple of hits, "Maybe I Do," on Vee Records and "Under the Cover of Night" on Jubilee.
A buddy kept bugging Dave to do a cover of the Earl Green/Carl Montgomery tune, "Six Days on the Road," and finally for no other reason than the proverbial perseverance, prompted by Jimmy C. Newman, he did the song. His version released in 1963 reached number 2 as it sold ten thousand copies a day at its zenith, and country music and trucking became married in such a way that is said that every eighteen wheel driver, especially abroad, has some Dudley tune or another on board. Signing with Mercury that year, he released the next single, "The Last Day in the Mines." He, of course, found most success in the "overland business": He did "Truck Drivin' Son-of-a-Gun," Two Six Packs Away," "Anything Leaving Town Today,""There Ain't No Easy Run," "One More Mile," "The Original Traveling Man," "Trucker's Prayer," and "Truck Driver's Waltz" sometimes aided by old comrade, Tom T. Hall.
I've Got My Diesel Wound Up
Not wanting to be typecast, he did another country song, "The Pool Shark" in 1970 that actually went to number one on the country charts. That year he sang in tandem with his pal, Tom T. Hall with their "Day Drinkin'." He had the 1971 hits "Comin' Down," and "Fly Away Again." Moving to Sun Records in 1980, he is known for his last hit, "Rolaids, Doan's Pills and Preparation H" not an endorsement for anything other than laughs. He continued this comedic vein working with DJ Charlie Douglas in "Where's That Truck?" Unfortunately he did not revive the earlier glory. Some of his latest projects: 2000's Christmas Truck Stop and 2001's American Trucker. This last collection of songs is a sort of best of, including his most famous song, "Six Days on the Road," as well as some of the other trucking songs mentioned above with additionally, "You Ain't Gonna Truck With Us," "Don't Mess With U.S. Truckers," and "I'm Proud to Say I Drive a Truck." He mostly performs concerts, rather than studio during these last decades.
The Teamsters Union has honored Dave Dudley with a solid gold honorary membership card.
Dave died of heart failure just three days short of Christmas, 2003 at his Danbury, Wisconsin home.
You can almost hear the horn and smell the diesel fuel right now, and I certainly hear Dave's low pitched reassuring voice helping me "...make it home tonight."
www.allmusicguide.com (Stephen Thomas Erlewine)