Les Dudek - guitar, vocals; Gerald Johnson - bass; Bill Meeker - drums; Joachim Young - keyboards
Les Dudek has to be one of the most prolific sideman musicians ever to ingrain themselves in the pop music scene of the 1970s and '80s. Still, he remains a relatively unknown axeman, despite his enormous talent and widespread involvement with acts such as Boz Scaggs, the Steve Miller Band, and The Allman Brothers Band, among others.
Hailing from Florida, Dudek was sneaking into blues clubs when he was only 14, trying to learn the tricks of the trade from such legendary blues masters as Freddie King and Buddy Guy. Through an acquaintance, he was introduced to Dickey Betts in 1972, who, upon the deaths of both Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, was now taking over a commanding presence in The Allman Brothers Band, alongside Gregg Allman.
Betts was so impressed with Dudek's playing that he invited him to co-write and record on the Betts' oriented material for what would be the next ABB album, Brothers & Sisters. Dudek rose to the occasion, co-writing and performing on some of the biggest Betts' Allmans hits, including "Jessica," and "Ramblin Man." Had he stuck it out, Dudek could have taken over the second guitar spot that players such as Dan Toler and Warren Haynes eventually landed, but he opted instead to work with a pair of musicians who had directly influenced his musical development: Boz Scaggs and Steve Miller.
Around the time this recording was made, Dudek had become a member of the Boz Scaggs Band, who in turn, had introduced Dudek to his former bandmate and friend, Steve Miller. Between 1974 and 1977, Dudek spent much of his time writing, recording and touring with both of them, including a joint tour where he played in both bands each night. If all of this wasn't enough activity, Dudek formed his own band and landed a solo deal on Columbia Records, where he made four albums in five years from 1976 through 1981. In between that, he also managed to do a solo record and tour with the DFK Band, which placed him in good company with keyboardist Michael Finnegan and guitarist Jim Krueger in 1979.
On this sterling recording from the "Live At The Record Plant" radio concert series, it is easy to see the Allmans connection (especially on the vocal tracks where Dudek sounds remarkably like Gregg Allman) and less likely to recognize the tie-in to Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs, though in the end, that affiliation would be his strongest alliance. Miller's longtime bassist, Gerald Johnson, is a member of the Dudek band for this performance.
Never being able to crack the rock/pop scene with his own universal solo success was frustrating to Dudek, but it never stopped his musical ambition and talent. In the 1980s, he was briefly romantically linked to pop diva Cher, and helped her with an ill-fated attempt to re-launch her career as a full-blown female rocker. The project, known as Cher & Black Rose, featured Dudek on guitar but quickly fell apart from internal struggles and problems between Cher and her label at the time. Check out Dudek's tasty guitar licks on this rare recording made two years prior to his first solo album release.