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Radio News: Voice behind 'Convoy," CB radio anthem, dies

Apr 03, 2022 2:33 am

Matt Schudel reports in the Washington Post that Bill Fries, an advertising executive with a unique history in one form of radio, died from cancer at the age of 93 on April 1. Under his stage name C.W. McCall, Fries hit number one on the pop charts in 1976 with the song "Convoy," the most famous musical ode to citizens band radio. Fries first created the character C.W. McCall as a truck driver in a series of commercials for a Midwestern bread company. Then he had top 20 country hits with “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe” and “Wolf Creek Pass,” both songs about truck driving. Then his song “Convoy,” an odd ode to breaking the law on the nation's highways told through CB radio, knocked the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” off the top of the Billboard pop chart in January 1976. The song was a CB radio conversation between Rubber Duck and Pig Pen, the CB radio handles of two truckers, and filled with the lingo and code words of citizens band radio of the era. “It was timely,” Fries told the Associated Press in 1990. “Back in 1975-76, that craze was sweeping the country. The jargon was colorful, and the American public liked that, too. It was laced with humor, but it had a rebellious feeling about it and people responded to it.” “Convoy” sold about seven million copies and inspired Sam Peckinpah’s 1978 film of the same name, starring Kris Kristoffersen. “Well, mercy sakes, good buddy, we gonna back on outta here,” C.W. McCall says at the end of “Convoy,” with a slight alteration of a trucker’s farewell: “Keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your … tail.” Read more about this story in the Washington Post.

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