The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Billy Wayne Dudley is leader of the DQ Band|
Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Billy Wayne Dudley relaxes in front of the family fire place to tune his guitar. He also plays the banjo.
Monday, March 11, 2013
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post
When he was 12 years old, Billy Wayne Dudley started singing for money to buy himself and friends ice cream at the popular Mart Service Station.
The building was later razed to make room for construction of Franklin Memorial Hospital at the intersection of South Main Street and Floyd Avenue.
Today, at age 71, the Rocky Mount native now ranks among Franklin County's bluegrass legends.
"As a young boy, I hung a round the Mart Service Station, operated by the late Clinton Tosh and Leo Renick. They and others around there encouraged me to sing and play. They'd take up money so we could buy ice cream. Sometimes I'd get 75 to 80 cents," Dudley said while relaxing in his home just west of Burnt Chimney.
Dudley spent some of the money he earned at Doc Perdue's store. It was close to the old Rocky Mount High School building on Dent Street.
"I'd go in there and buy a bunch of candy and sell it to the kids at school. I made some money doing that," he said.
He decided to drop out of school after the eighth grade and worked for four years at The Lane Company. But factory work was not what he wanted.
Then he made the decision to attend barber school in Roanoke for a year. When he completed the course, he went to work for Albert Meeks, with whom he worked for more than 12 years.
Dudley was always singing and playing guitar when he wasn't cutting hair.
Dudley's father died when he was 12 years old, and Clifford Swanson "was almost like a daddy to me. He was the one who taught me how to play four or five cords on the guitar. I was about 17 at the time. By then, I'd gotten pretty good," Dudley said.
Then he quickly added, "Dan and Geneva Hodges were the ones who inspired me to sing and play."
Dudley was 25 when he formed his first band, known as The Side Kicks. The group consisted of Randy Love, Billy Weaver, Alton Hamblett, Jeff Wineset and the late Charlie Hunt.
Some years later, Dudley gathered Ivan Overstreet, Curtis Campbell, Larry Roberts and the late Dewey Prillaman together to form a band they named Southern Roads. The group performed together for five years. Then Dudley joined forces with the late Paul Jefferson for 25 years.
During that time, Dudley sold cars from his home for a short time before deciding to open his own barber shop on Route 40 West. He then retired from the business for about 18 years.
"Herbert Bowling talked me into coming to his shop on Franklin Street under Haywood's Jewelers to help him out during busy times. I work several hours a day, two or three days a week," Dudley said.
At the request of the Arrington family, Dudley formed the DQ Band in 1999. The group performs each Thursday morning at the DQ on Route 40 West. He was joined by Junior Montgomery, Curtis Campbell, Allen McBride and the late Dewey Prillaman.
"We were there playing before The Crooked Road began," Dudley said.
The DQ Band takes an annual summer break from the end of May until September.
On Wednesday nights, Dudley can be found, along with Ivan Overstreet, Johnathan Dillon, Daniel Pruitt, Wayne Hunley, Charlie Anderson, Wayne Pugh and Jimmy Beheler, at Green Akers, just off Route 122 at its intersection with Route 40 East.
Dudley also makes regular appearances at the Waidsboro Ruritan Club's jam sessions on the first and third Thursday nights of the month. Also on the list are several area homes for senior citizens.
"Over the years, I've played all over North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia, including once at the state fair," he added.
Making music has been a part of Dudley's life for 48 years and it has always been his love.
Dudley also has a band called The Mountain Music String Band. He and the band play monthly at a retirement home in Huddleston in addition to a number of churches. The group consists of Curtis Campbell, Mike Dillon and Jesse Ramsey.
Dudley is married to the former Maggie Thurman. The couple has two sons, Timmy and Brian, and two grandchildren, Jordan, 17, and Jacob, 12.
The musician is proud of what he has accomplished.
"Over the years, I have been honored to have played with some of the best around. I thank the Lord every day for being able to make people happy with my singing and music," he added.