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Dave Dudley just keeps on truckin'

At 75, Dave Dudley - known for such 16-wheeler anthems as "Six Days on the Road," "Truck Drivin' Son-of-a-Gun" and "There Ain't No Easy Run" - just keeps on truckin'.

He enjoyed 12 Top 10 hits throughout the '60s and '70s, but only one No. 1, 1970's "The Pool Shark."

Yet Dave maintains that no song has done as much for him as his first big hit,1963's "Six Days on the Road," which only went to No. 2 despite its popularity as a made-to-last truckin' classic.

The tune made its singer a global phenomenon. "All those years I was singing the song, I wasn't realizing what it was doing all over the world," admits Dave, who eventually spent 20 years playing in Europe. "I found out it was the biggest truck song ever."

Dave's first love was neither music nor trucks, but baseball - as a young man, he had a promising career as a relief pitcher for the Gainesville Owls, the farm team for the Chicago White Sox."I had a pretty good fastball," Dave recalls. But after suffering a pitching injury, he returned to his home state of Wisconsin. A singer and guitarist since childhood, he soon got his own radio show.

"They called me 'The Texas Stranger,'" he recalls. "I made five dollars a show. All of a sudden I was in show business!" He moved to Minneapolis, hosted another radio show and nearly died when a car plowed into him one evening. "I went blind for a few months," Dave remembers. "The back of my head was shot, and I smashed my leg in the pelvis area. That put me out of business for a year."

After his recovery, it wasn't long before his trucking songs made him a star.

Dave now lives in Danbury, Wis., with his wife of 26 years, Marie. "I've got a lot of things to be thankful for," he declares. "I've had a great career, and made so many friends all over the world."

-- Nick Krewen