Sheet Music

Sheet music book of Black Bear Road and Wolf Creek Pass The only known publication of sheet music for C.W. McCall songs is C.W. McCall: Black Bear Road / Wolf Creek Pass, which sold for $6.95. It was published by Chappell Music Company, (now known as Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.), year unknown; there’s no indication anywhere in the book, but a good guess would be 1976. At the time, Chappell Music was a PolyGram Company, and PolyGram was the distributor of C.W.’s albums.

The front of the book has the Cinnamon Pass photograph from the cover of Black Bear Road, while the back of the book is the cover from Wolf Creek Pass. The cover states “19 Songs From His Two Hit Albums”. If you've been counting, you’ll realize that this is one song short of the contents of those two albums. The missing song? “Wolf Creek Pass”. Bill Fries, the real C.W. McCall, told us that the song was not included due to its length.

The arrangements are simple piano/guitar ones, with guitar chords; and the lyrics are similar to the words of the songs as they were actually recorded.

The book has a short biography of Bill Fries:

C.W. McCall, known to his family and friends as Bill Fries, was born in the small southwest Iowa town of Audubon. A child of the great depression, his mother and father were musicians…piano and fiddler players who once provided music for silent movies and local country dances. All through grade school, young Bill sang and played his clarinet for audiences in the area. A talented young artist as well, he amazed his teachers and schoolmates with his ability to draw. He even helped pay his way through school by painting signs on trucks and store fronts in Audubon and the other little towns in the vicinity.

Having been the drum major of his high school marching band, he wanted to continue his musical education in college. And so, as a member of the University of Iowa Concert Band, Bill began to study serious music. But his love of drawing slowly pointed him in another direction and one day he decided to give up music in favor of a career in commercial art. When television appeared in the midwest, Bill walked into an Omaha station and announced that he was available to design sets and do any other kind of artwork they needed — free, if necessary. The station hired him for $35.00 a week. Five years later he had his own TV show doing caricatures of famous people.

Back cover of book of sheet music In the early sixties, television lost much of its live glamour and Bill turned to the advertising business…and was hired by Bozell & Jacobs, a nationally known advertising agency, as an art director. In a short time, another of his talents emerged: song writing. Putting music, writing and art together, he won several major awards for innovative campaigns and in 1968 became creative director for the agency.

One of B&J’s clients, the Metz Baking Company of Sioux City, Iowa, asked him for a new way to sell bread. Bill’s answer was a campaign that changed his life. He created the characters “C.W. McCall,” a truckdriver for Old Home Bread and “Mavis,” a gum-chewing waitress who had eyes for McCall…and a place called “The Old Home Filler-Up-An-Keep-On-A-Truckin-Café.” Three commercials, thousands of fan letters and millions of loaves of bread later, Bill’s idea won the most coveted award in advertising…the Clio for best television campaign in the U.S.

Unable to find a singer or actor to “talk” his lyrics to his satisfaction, Bill wound up using his own voice on the soundtracks. A friend in the recording business suggested he make a record as “C.W. McCall” based on the highly successful commercials. The 45 single entitled “The Old Home Filler-Up-An-Keep-On-A-Truckin-Café” became an overnight country hit in the upper midwest and in June 1974, MGM Records signed C.W. McCall, alias Bill Fries, to a recording contract. “Old Home” then climbed the National charts and suddenly put “C.W.” back into the music career he had left several years before. His next single, “Wolf Creek Pass” was a country and pop smash. It became the title tune of C.W.’s debut MGM album which featured the “Walkin’ Talkin’ Singin’” McCall style on nine original tracks. His singles “Classified” and “Black Bear Road” continued the success story. In mid-1975 C.W. released his second album, which was also entitled “Black Bear Road.” It contained the highly original song “Convoy,” which at year’s end was developing into one of the genuine “sleeper” singles of recent times.

C.W. lives with his wife Rean and their children in the wooded Missouri River Bluffs area north of Omaha. His prize possession, a jeep, takes him when he has the time to the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado, his favorite hide-out. Free time is scarce for C.W. these days, though, and one is more likely to find him at S.R. Studios is Omaha with producer Don Seart and composer Chip Davis working on new songs for MGM or new commercials for "The Old Home Filler-Up-An-Keep-On-A-Truckin-Café".

(All apparent typographical errors are present in the original text.)