You never know who’s going to show up at Daytona’s Wednesday night blues jam. Sure, the featured act of the evening has been publicized for weeks, but the jam session that follows can be full of surprises. That was true on one recent evening, when the Daytona Blues Society’s True Blues Jam welcomed Joe King and the Soulmenders to the Bank & Blues Club. It’s pretty hard to follow an act like that, but then Les Dudek took the stage before a surprised audience.
(Right: Les Dudek with Cher, during the filming of the movie “Mask”, in which he played a character named “Bone Tyson”)
Dudek is a local celeb (Auburndale, Florida) who got his first guitar, an acoustic silver-tone from Sears and Roebuck, for Christmas in 1964. By the age of 14 he was already playing in bands all over Florida. Next he went to Nashville to record demos, hoping for a record deal. In 1971, another Florida musician, Duane Allman, was killed in a motorcycle accident. As a result, Les was invited to record with The Allman Brothers Band. You can hear Les playing guitar harmonies with Dickey Betts on “Ramblin’ Man” and the intro acoustic guitar on “Jessica”, the two biggest hits from the Allman Brothers’ “Brothers and Sisters” album.
(Left: Les Dudek with Gregg Allman)
Dudek was offered a guitar spot with Boz Scaggs, touring with him and playing on the “Silk Degrees” album and Boz’s “Low Down” and “Lido Shuffle” videos. In 1974, Boz and Les joined the Joker Tour with the Steve Miller Band. Miller invited Les to record some tunes that turned into classic hits on Steve Miller’s “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Book Of Dreams” albums, on which Les co-wrote “Sacrifice”. Miller invited Les to join his band, so Les moved to California.
Later, Les formed a band in the San Francisco area from members of Scaggs and Miller called “Polar Bear.” He was offered a solo recording deal from Columbia records and during the next six years he recorded four critically acclaimed solo albums, “Les Dudek Debut”, “Say No More”, “Ghost Town Parade” and “Gypsy Ride”.
In the early 80s, Cher asked Dudek to participate on a recording project, which became the “Black Rose” album (they dated from 1980 to ’82). In 1984, Dudek made an appearance (as biker Bone Tyson) and wrote some songs in the movie”Mask”starring Cher, Sam Elliott, Eric Stoltz and Laura Dern. Les also appeared in Christopher Crowe’s “Streets of Justice”, a Movie Of The Week from Universal Studios in 1985.
Next Dudek teamed up with Stevie Nicks and co-wrote two songs, “Sister Honey”, a collaboration which appears on her “Rock a Little” album and “Freestyle”, the title track to Les’ “Freestyle” CD. Les also toured with Stevie on her 1991 “Whole Lotta Trouble” tour.
Throughout the ’90’s Dudek toured the U.S. and Europe and released a rock ‘n blues album titled “Deeper Shades Of Blues” and “Freestyle 2002”. He also wrote and performed instrumental music for TV, still heard on shows like “Friends”, “Extra”, “Wild On”, “Search Party”, and “Access Hollywood”.
Dudek still lives in Auburndale, Florida. More about him can be found on his Web site, http://www.lesdudek.com.