Bernie Early’s latest album, Highway My Way, was written and produced with a singular goal in mind. “I want to be a voice for the truckers,” Early says.

Early says music’s been his way since age 13, when he started playing bass and guitar in bars in Ottawa, Ontario, and elsewhere around Canada. “In Quebec, you can sing and play in bars at that age as long as you don’t drink,” Early says. In 1957, when Early was 19, Fats Domino’s manager, Lou Freedman, discovered him during an audition set up by a local newspaper reporter.

“The audition lasted about 10 minutes,” Early says. “I was in a room full of music managers, and Freedman was the only one to speak up.” Early then auditioned in New York and was given a five-year contract with MGM. At age 19, Early sold 1.5 million copies of the single “Rock Doll,” and “Oh California” made number one on the RPM charts but was never released in stores.

In 1958, Early performed “Rock Doll” on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, calling it one of the “most terrifying things” he’s ever done. “I had all these teens yelling around me, and I was trying to mime the words to my song,” Early says. “I performed in front of 50 million television viewers.” Miming songs on American Bandstand was common, Early says, because the cost to bring in a real band was too high.

Early’s style of music is what he calls “true rockabilly.” Rockabilly began in the 1950s and is one of the earliest forms of rock ’n’ roll. “I’ve been doing rockabilly since before it was rockabilly,” Early says, describing the genre as “country music with a beat.” Early was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in February 2008 alongside such legends as Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

He now lives in Largo, Fla., and performs six days a week, averaging 60 shows each month. Over the years, Early has met many truckers and calls them some of the “nicest people on the road to meet.” Early recalls that years ago truckers were the first set of people to help someone if they were having car trouble or were broke down. “Today it’s not that easy,” Early says. “Now truckers worry about getting mugged — or worse.”

Most of the bars Early played in days gone by were late-night stops for truckers. Laughing and talking with truckers, Early says, was one of the highlights of his career. He was fortunate enough to meet artist Dave Dudley, who was most famous for his truck-driving country songs. “I loved his stuff,” Early says. “Trucking stuff is more modern and tells the story about the truck driver, his family and everyone else associated with him.”

Early says he wants to become the new Dave Dudley and be a voice for truckers. “I want to see if I can bring trucking back to where it should be,” Early says. “They need all the publicity and support they can get, and I want to give it to them.”

Highway My Way was released in April 2008 and trades in Early’s rockabilly roots while injecting a more traditional country sound. “I like the trucking music better,” Early says. “It has a nice beat, and you can make it raunchy and people can relate to it.” The album features two increasingly popular tunes, “Song of a Trucker’s Son” and “The Truckstop.” Additionally, Early’s song “Take That Gas and Shove It” was released in June 2008 — a song that just “popped” into Early’s head after Highway My Way was released.

“The trucker is the last true rebel, the cowboy, the independent that goes through hell and drives through it,” Early says. “Many times truckers have helped me out — even saved my life.” With his trucking album, Early hopes to open the radio waves to more trucking music. “Right now, trucking music is played on primarily trucking radio stations,” Early says. A follow-up song for “Take That Gas and Shove It” is slated to be released in October, and Early hopes it too will impact truckers. “I need the truckers to support me,” he says. “I want to kick country music back into gear.”

The Highway My Way album is available for $10 and the single, “Take That Gas and Shove It,” for $4. Both can be purchased at amazon.com, iTunes.com and other online retailers.

“I’m here to stay till I croak,” Early says. “I’m not giving up till I get ahead, and it’s gonna be a trucking hit that does it.”
- Truckers News Advocate Your Way, Laura Pitts


Copyright Bernie Early all rights reserved

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