VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – It was the end of a musical era Friday night at Avalon Country Club at Squaw Creek.

It was the last gig for a band that has been gracing the stages around Youngstown for over two decades. Rudy and the Professionals are done because Rudy has decided it’s time to retire.

Before the music began, Rudy Fowler posed for pictures and accepted hugs as he prepared for the band’s final performance and his last one after 66 years on stage.

“Because I’ve had enough of it. I was on the road so many times. I never spent Christmas at home with my wife,” Fowler said.

Fowler is 78. He lived most of his life in the Bahamas, where he started singing at 12 and where he started Rudy and the Professionals. When his wife brought him to Youngstown 22 years ago, he started the band again.

“The best band I ever had is this group right here. I’m going to tell you, no lie, because we can go any place with any band and perform,” Fowler said.

Guitar player Rich Treglia has been with Rudy for 17 years.

“When I got the job, he wanted me to do all the reggae stuff that he was doing and he gave me a CD to go practice and I came back and got the gig,” Treglia said.

Bass player Chuck Metzger of Canfield has been part of the band for 15 years.

“In the heyday, we used to work six or seven days a week. Sometimes we’d do two gigs in a day. We’d play in the afternoon and then play somewhere at night,” Metzger said.

Before the night was over, there were expected to be some tears.

“I think so, yeah. I already experienced that a couple days ago. The realization of it coming to an end,” Treglia said.

“Bittersweet, bittersweet,” Metzger said.

“What really makes me feel good and so forth is the audience. I enjoy the audience. If I can reach anybody, and who’s not even feeling good, I’ll try my best to make them feel good,” Fowler said.

Before we left Friday night’s performance, we asked one of the band members why he quit, and he said that’s what he asked Fowler. But then, he added if Fowler gets more gigs, he’ll be there.