"Well, I pulled out of Pittsburgh, Rollin' down the Eastern Seaboard/ I've got my diesel wound up, And she's running like never before/ There's a speed zone ahead, all right, I don't see a cop in sight/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight." -
Carl Montgomery-Earl Greene.

Dave Dudley
He built an huge following in Australia long before he headlined the Wandong Country Music festival in autumn of 1977.

And Dave Dudley's hits were on the jukebox in every truck stop and country bar from the days he topped charts in 1963.

Sure, Dudley didn't write Six Days On The Road or Cowboy Boots but it was his version of trucking anthems that leaped the moat of Australian commercial radio before country suffered leprosy.

Generations of country singers from the ultra cool Steve Earle and the late Gram Parsons to the dorkiest droogs in matching shirts and vintage nasal whine had a crack at his hits.

Pill popping truckies the world over got the nod when not on the nod from the man with the deep voice and shallow driving hints.

Dave Dudley was the king of the truckies from the deepest south of the U.S. to the north of England, Scandinavia and the guts of the Australian outback.

He had a vast army of amateur hour imitators and cooler chaps such as Dale Watson who mined the same lucrative sub genre of country music.

But all that is left now is a memory - Dudley, real name Darwin David Pudraska died at 75 on December 22 of a heart attack.

Widow and song co-writer Marie broke the news to an industry still reeling from recent deaths of three of the Cash clan, Johnny Paycheck and Gary Stewart.

"I miss the heck out of him already,'' she said the day after he refuelled for the final trip.


Dudley was born in Spencer, Wisconsin, and grew up in nearby Stevens Point where he was a railroad hand.

Playground chums dubbed him "Duddy'' - a nickname that came in handy years later when he picked Dave Dudley as his stage name.

His dad bought him his first guitar at 11 and he developed his love for baseball in his
teenage years - as a young adult he was a member of the Gainesville, Texas Owls.

But in 1950, after an arm injury had ruined a baseball career, he turned to country music.
He was a radio performer and disc jockey who worked in several Midwest states.
It was a stint at WTWT-Wausau in Texas where he would play along with the songs on the air.

The station owner encouraged him to become a performer and Dudley followed the advice.
Following successful broadcasts in Idaho, he formed the Dave Dudley Trio in the early 1950s, and the band stayed together for seven years.

Dudley moved to Minnesota in 1960 and formed the Country Gentlemen.

In 1960, Dudley was struck by a hit run driver while packing equipment after a gig and was waylaid in hospital.


Unlike another famed hit & run victim Clarence White, guitarist for the Byrds who were among many bands to cover his songs, Dudley didn't go to God after his accident.

It was at the funeral of White that Gram Parsons and tour manager Phil Kaufman made the pact that resulted in Parsons body being stolen and burned in the California desert near Joshua Tree.

But that's another story and this is Dudley's obituary although Gram also covered Dave's biggest hit.

Gram and the Flying Burrito Brothers covered this song, which also appeared on Farther Along (A&M, 1988).

After a six-month recovery, Dudley returned to music and secured a record deal with Vee Records.

His first single, Maybe I Do, was minor hit in autumn of 1961 and it was followed by a #20 country hit, Under Cover of the Night, the following year on Jubilee Records.


"I got ten forward gears, And a Georgia overdrive/ I'm taking little white pills, And my eyes are open wide/ I just passed a 'Jimmy' and a 'White': I've been passin' everything in sight/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight."

Dudley reluctantly recorded Six Days On The Road to please a friend.

In 1963 he released it on his own Golden Wing label and it reached #2 on U.S. country charts and #32 on pop graphs.

One of the first stations to play the song was WOKY-AM, a Milwaukee rock station.
The song spawned a new genre of songs about truckers, usually depicting them as hard-living, hard-loving macho men.

It became a hit and solidified his image as a friend of the working class.

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 many 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.

"I like my woman everywhere I go", Dudley boated in Truck Drivin' Son-Of-A-Gun.

Truck Driver's Waltz was one of many of them written by, and sometimes with, Tom T. Hall.
By the end of the decade, he was also making conservative, good-old-boy anthems, as well.


"Well, it seems like a month, Since I kissed my baby good-bye/ I could have a lot of women, But I'm not like some other guys/ I could find one to hold me tight, But I could never believe that it's right/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight.'

In 1970 Dudley had a #1 country hit with The Pool Shark and recorded a duet with Hall, Day Drinkin'.

During the early '70s, he had several hits - notably the 1971 #10 singles Comin' Down and Fly Away Again - but by the beginning of the '80s, he was no longer a presence on the charts.

He recorded for Sun Records in 1980 and had some success with Rolaids, Doan's Pills And Preparation H - his last hit.

Also in 1980, a German pop group called Truck Stop recorded a tribute to Dudley ("I Want to Hear More Dave Dudley").

His comedy single, Where's That Truck?, with truckers" favourite DJ, Charlie Douglas, did not revive his career.

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.


"I.C.C. is checking on down the line/ I'm a little overweight and my log's three days behind/ But nothing bothers me tonight/ I can dodge all the scales all right/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight."

Dudley inspired generations of peers and fans from truckies to troops to anti-terrorists.
He performed the famed Wandong country music festival north of Melbourne in 1977.
International artists were a rarity for the trucking country that also made an exception for Texan western singer Red Steagall.

Local bands diverse as the Dead Livers and Red Rivers performed his songs live.
Rivers also cut a humorous version of Cowboy Boots - penned by a B Knight - but a big hit for Dudley.

Rivers rendition on his fifth album Wishbone included references to Kylie Minogue.


Dudley may not have been perceived as cool by some country acts but an all star cast of Dale Watson, Rosie Flores, Wayne Hancock, Toni Price, Kim Richey, Jon Langford, Lou Whitney & The Skeletons cut Six Days On The Road as the finale of wondrous trucking CD, Rig Rock Deluxe.

Other artists featured on the 1996 disc included Buck Owens, Red Simpson & Junior Brown, Billy Joe Shaver, Jim Lauderdale & Del Reeves, Bill Kirchen & Too Much Fun, BR5-49, Steve Earle, Marty Stuart and Bottle Rockets.

It was the sequel to another fine Diesel Only label compilation Rig Rock Truck Stop in 1993.
There's been a swag of other top shelf trucking discs down the years from artists diverse as Commander Cody and his refugee Bill Kirchen.

We may return to them after Christmas to embroider the legacy of Dave Dudley.


In 2002, following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., Dudley returned to the studio to record Dave Dudley, American Trucker, - a hard-edged tribute to truckers that included two songs talking to terrorists who might want to tangle with the folks who drive the big rigs.

I would like to elaborate but it's late on Christmas Eve and even good old boys like me have a good women waiting at home.

"Well my rig's a little old, But that don't mean she's slow/ There's a flame from her stack, And the smoke's rolling black as coal/ My hometown's coming in sight, If you think I'm happy your right/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight/ Six days on the road and I'm gonna make it home tonight."


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