C.W. McCall, “Convoy” country singer, RIP

C.W. McCall, “Convoy” country singer, RIPPublished: April 2, 2022

C.W. McCall, the country singer known for 1975 #1 hit "Convoy," died on Friday at age 93. According to his son, he had been battling cancer and was in hospice care when he died.

Born Billie Dale Fries in 1928, he came to country sideways. In the early '70s he was working as creative director for Bozell & Jacobs, an Omaha, Nebraska advertising agency where he created a series of ads for Old Home Bread that starred a truck driver named C.W. McCall and featured him singing about his adventures on the road. Though the McCall in the ads was played by actor Jim Finlayson, Fries wrote the lyrics and sang, and the music was written by Chip Davis who would go on to found new age group Mannheim Steamroller. The ads were so popular, Fries and Davis parlayed it into an actual music career of truck driver songs which coincided (and fueled) the C.B. craze on the mid-'70s.

Though McCall had country hits with "Old Home Filler-Up an' Keep on a-Truckin' Café" (originally an Old Home Bread jingle), "Wolf Creek Pass", "Black Bear Road" and more, it was 1976 single "Convoy" — about a coast-to-coast trucker rebellion led by a driven known as Rubber Duck — that became a full-on worldwide sensation. The song topped the country charts and then did the same on the pop charts in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — it peaked at #2 in the UK — and spawning a movie of the same name starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, and Ernest Borgnine.

McCall continued to have country hits after "Convoy," like 1977's "Roses for Mama," but mostly retired from music after 1979's C. W. McCall & Co, turning his attention to environmental activism and politics, serving as mayor of Ouray, Colorado for six years.

Rest in peace, CW.