Found Performance: Dave Dudley

Dave Dudley’s “Six Days On The Road” has a strong identity as a Country song, but in 1963 when I first became aware of this Truckin’ little diddy I was a deejay at a Top-40 station! I’d just been hired by Gary Bruno (Taylor), at the time the PD of KSEM in Moses Lake, and Gary had already added “Six Days” to the station’s current records rotation.

The song eventually made it to #2 on the National Country Music Charts and showed up at #32 on the Pop Charts with some stronger showings regionally. It wasn’t, of course, the only Country song played on Top-40 stations in ’63 … there was (among others) Johnny Cash with “Ring Of Fire” (#17 • Billboard) and Brenda Lee’s last Top-10 Pop Hit • “Losing You” (#6). However, it was undoubtedly the 1st hard core Truckin’ song to aquire national attention and eventually unleash a pandemic of Truckin’ tunes to follow … everything from Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever” to Little Feat’s  “Willin’.”

Dave Dudley (nee: David Darwin Pedruska) was a Wisconsin born Country singer and although “Six Days On The Road” certainly became his signature song, it wasn’t his biggest Country hit. In 1969 he had a #1 National Country chart topper with “The Pool Shark.” He amassed a remarkable number of Country hits following “Six Days,” with his final chart appearance in 1980 with a forgettable #77 tune titled “Rolaids, Doan’s Pills and Preparation H.”
“Six Days” was written by songwriter Earl Green & Muscle Shoals Recording Studio songwriter Carl “Peanutt” Montgomery and Dave’s version was released on the small Minneapolis label Golden Wing Records. At the time Dudley was living in the Minnesota city and lead The Country Gentlemen who appeared regularly on KEVE Radio (now KYCR-AM • 1440) and at the Gay 90’s Club.

There have been many cover versions of this truck drivers’ anthem recorded by everyone from George Thorogood & The Destroyers to Steve Earle, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Sawyer Brown. It remains, perhaps, the most memorable of all truck driving songs.

In 1972 Dave Dudley and singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall wrote the soundtrack music for the movie “Deadhead Miles” featuring Alan Arkin as a cross-country truck driver hauling stolen goods. The soundtrack was laced with Dave’s rendition of trucker-themed songs such as “A Piece Of The Road,” “I Won’t Go Down That Road Again,” “White Line Fever” and “One More Mile.” Dave Dudley and Tom T. Hall also did a duet of “Day Drinkin’.” The music was good, but the movie was rated a stinker!
Here’s Dave Dudley in 1979 performing in Germany with the popular German country music band “Truck Stop” singing his all-time Country classic “Six Days On The Road.” Click twice on the video link, first time to go to Vimeo and second time to start the video.
Dave Dudley on German TV, 1979 ( 2:42)
Video credit: Country Tunes YouTube Channel, visit here.

Author: Jay Hamilton

Jay Hamilton is a veteran disc jockey, program director, music director and radio programming consultant. In the Pacific Northwest, he is best remembered for his time at KMPS AM/FM during the '70s and '80s. Jay is now retired and lives on the Olympic Peninsula. Music, of nearly every genre, has always been an important aspect of his life and he frequently contributes opinions, articles and "Collectibles" to Puget Sound Media.

14 thoughts on “Found Performance: Dave Dudley

  1. Oops! Dick, I had intended to thank you for making me aware of “Truck Driver’s Blues” by Cliff Bruner & His Texas Wanderers … ‘cuz I was totally unaware of that wonderful bit of Truckin’ music history. Good stuff!

    1. I’m glad you liked it, Jay. Can’t beat those oldies but goodies!

      Some other guys have brought up some of their favorite trucking tunes, so here’s a few I like a lot: “Hello, I’m a Truck” and “Roll Truck Roll” by Red Simpson, “How Fast them Trucks Can Go” by Claude Gray, “Truck Driver’s Queen” by Charlie Moore and Bill Napier, “Tombstone Every Mile” by Dick Curless, “The Woman Behind the Man Behind the Wheel” by Red Sovine, “Truck Driving Woman” by Norma Jean, “Little Pink Mack” by Kay Adams etc. etc. etc.

      1. Dick ~ After all this time with everyone tossin’ Country truck drivin’ songs around, I wondered why I’d forgotten a couple by Del Reeves. I suppose it could be ’cause the words “Truck” or “Truckin'” aren’t in the titles of these songs … with really clever lyrics. I’m thinkin’ of Del’s 1965 #1 Country hit “Girl On A Billboard” with the lyric: “Rollin’ down the highway in my Jimmy hawlin’ freight”. So, there’s no doubt that songs about a trucker. ••• Then there’s his 1968 #5 Country hit “Looking At The World Through A Windshield” with lyrics that includ: “I’ve pushed this rig through sleet and rain”. That guy’s definitely truckin’. – Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen also did a cover version of “Windshield”. > For those who may not recall these classics, here’s Del with “Girl On A Billboard”:

        > And here’s Del with “World Through A Windshield”:

  2. Yipes! If we start listing truck driving songs we’ll be here ’til the middle of next week! Especially during the latter 70s Truckin’ Song and CB craze! I was doing a deejay show at KPOK in Portland where we had a CB radio in the control room & took requests & talked with truck drivers … I even MC’d Truck Rodeos & CB Jamborees and got a write-up in a Northwest truckers magazine about my KPOK show that leaned a little toward truckers who were listening in their semis while driving up and down the Columbia Gorge and on their way to the Oregon coast.
    I’m still sticking with Terry Fell & The Fellers original version of “Truck Driving Man” (recorded February 17, 1954 & released that April) as the 1st Truckin’ song with any real national impact. (Oh, I do own a fairly pristine copy of that “Big Bluegrass Special” LP w/The Green River Boys and Glen Campbell on Capitol. Great album!)
    Breaker-Breaker, 10-4, Over & Out‼

  3. The song usually considered by your elders to be the first truck driving song is a 1939 Ted Daffan composition, “Truck Driver’s Blues”. It was recorded in ’39 or ’40 by Cliff Bruner and His Texas Wanderers. “Popular Music” by Nat Shapiro says the song was introduced by Moon Mullican, who did vocalize on some of Bruner’s records. This doesn’t sound like Moon’s voice to me but that means nothing. I first heard the song on a 1960 Decca 45 by Webb Pierce.

    Here’s Cliff Bruner and His Texas Wanderers with “Truck Driver’s Blues”.

  4. Michael ~ You’re certainly correct about Dudley not being the 1st to record “Six Days”. The original was by Paul Davis, a little-known (nationally) Country artist. His version was released in 1961 on Bulletin Records out of Nashville. He shouldn’t be confused with singer-songwriter Paul Davis of the Pop hits “I Go Crazy” (1977) & “65 Love Affair” (1982). Here’s a link to the “Country” Paul Davis version of “Six Days”:

    Among the very 1st truckin’ songs to have a national impact was “Truck Driving Man” by Terry Fell in 1954 on X-Records (a subsidiary of RCA) and featured harmony vocals by a member of Terry’s band … named Buck Owens. That particular truckin’ song has been recorded by almost everybody who’s ever sung a country song! My favorite is a Bluegrass version by Glen Campbell with the Green River Boys.

  5. Jay … Thanks for sharing the ultimate trucker’s lament! Dave Dudley wasn’t the first to record this song but he made the hit with it. Not the first “trucker song” either, but we might say that Dudley kick-started the trend for rig-driver songs–released in ’63 when the Teamsters still ruled.

  6. Jay – that is an interesting piece of history. From semi-pro to semi trucks. I like it. From nine innings to twice that many wheels?

    “Country” Charley Pride, as we were told to call him back in ’66, and even that young punk, Garth Brooks, also took a swing at pro baseball.

    Country people definitely know how to throw it.

    And it figgers. Baseball is America’s game and country is America’s music.

  7. Thinking of country trucking songs I think of this one and Convoy. And I always thought of I’ve Been Everywhere by Hank snow as a trucking song…but maybe it is just a traveling song.

  8. Dick ~ Another little interesting trivia factoid about Dave Dudley was he originally wanted to be a professional baseball pitcher. He actually played semi-pro ball with the Gainesville Owls, but an arm injury shortened his career. So, he went from playing semi-pro ball to singing semi-truck songs.

  9. The first place I heard this great song was KJR and they played the heck out of it, saluting the “Captains Sailing the Concrete Seas” with every spin.

    A little bite of trivia: “Six Days On The Road” hit the Billboard Country chart on Kountry KAYO’s fortieth day of life.

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