Happy Birthday To Bill
There are still ten days to go, but this is a bi-weekly newsletter, and we would hate to be late for this occasion.
On 15 November, Bill Fries (The Real C.W. McCall) will be 73 years old. He's been there, done that, and despite an amazing lack of interest by a certain multi-national recording comglomerate his songs are still popular. If you want to send a card or letter to Bill, address it to
PO Box E
Ouray, CO 81427-0589
Frequently Given Answers
- Sorry, but Bill does not have stuff that he can send to you.
- If you want something autographed, send it to the address above. If you're sending something in an envelope, enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for its return. If you're sending something in a box, use a box that can be resealed; and enclose return postage and a mailing label.
- You didn't get it back because you didn't include any return postage.
- Bill doesn't have copies of his albums for sale. Really. Check out a used record store or buy the CDs (hint, hint).
- No, The Legend-News and TechRen Enterprises don't sell Bill's albums, either.
Places To Go, If You Don't Like This Place
C.W. McCall: An American Legend is not the only web site about C.W. McCall; there are others. And those others are David Frederick's CONVOY THE MOTION PICTURE WEBSITE and Miles Lumbard's Tales Of The Four Wheel Cowboy.
David's site is dedicated to the 1978 movie CONVOY, starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw, and Ernest Borgnine. At this site you can read about the movie, the making of the movie, the actors (where are they now?) in the movie, and just about anything else that's related to the movie. He has video and audio clips, too. In short, this site is about the movie. And if you haven't seen the movie, you can get a tape of it.
Miles' pages are part of a larger work, the Narrow Gauge Circle, which presents the history of narrow gauge railroads in southwestern Colorado. C.W. McCall wrote of the Durango-Silverton train ("The Silverton") and the Rio Grande Southern ("The Gallopin' Goose"), but those weren't the only trains in Colorado. Miles tells you the history of the others, and where running trains still operate. The C.W. McCall section covers the albums (much as An American Legend does), but if you would like to see beautiful pictures of the Colorado that C.W. McCall calls home, then this is the site to visit.
Now there may be a few more people out there with a page or two about C.W. — usually, they've posted the lyrics to "Convoy" — but if you want to learn something about the country that inspired the songs of Bill Fries, or of the movie that was inspired by a song of Bill Fries, check out these sites.
But wait, there's more. Back in June 2000, a few hardcore C.W. McCall fans with too much time on their hands attempted to recreate the route of the mighty convoy in the song "Convoy". Alan Chafin has some details and pictures on his "Convoy 2000 Information Page.
C.W. McCall Tour 2002
Down and around and around and down
In last issue's update on the C.W. McCall Tour 2002, we mentioned that we couldn't remember what was location 3 on the map. Actually, what we said was
- Darned if we can remember why we picked this spot. We'll tell you, as soon as we remember
Alan Chafin has given us The Answer. It's Fiscus, as in "Fiscus to Jacksonville, Quick to Correctionville". Apparently, Fiscus is such a small place that two of our Rand McNally maps don't even show it.
Also, since we're trying to get a tour of American Gramaphone arranged, we've moved the Nebraska day of the Tour to Friday, and we'll do Iowa on Saturday. Of course, this is still subject to change; but we've got eight months to make up our minds.
Old Home Café
Back where it all began
Recording artists can't just cut a record and then sit back and wait for the royalties to pour in. No, the artist must go on the road and perform, and visit the radio stations that play their records and generally make their presence known.
T. Tommy Cutrer (pronounced "coo-trair") is a legend of country music radio. Back in the '70s he had a syndicated radio show called "Music City U.S.A.", a daily, one-hour programme of music and interviews with country music personalities. Like other syndicated shows of that time, it was distributed to radio stations on vinyl LPs, "transcription discs", which the participating stations could then play at the time that they had scheduled for the show.
In the week of 17 November 1975, a recording artist by the name of C.W. McCall was making his publicity stops, and one of those stops was with T. Tommy. C.W. had a new album to promote, Black Bear Road, which was his follow-up to Wolf Creek Pass of 1974.
[C.W.] "C'mon, c'mon, 10-4."
The program discs did not contain a simple continuous recording of an entire hour of T. Tommy and his guest. Each side of the LP was broken into several cuts, the breaks between the sections meant for the insertion of the local radio station's own commercials. T. Tommy did have his own sponsors, and their commercials did appear within the main program. Also included in the show were several songs by country music performers of the time.
In this series of shows with C.W. McCall, there are a songs by C.W., information about the character of C.W. McCall and his creator, and a few country songs that you probably don't remember (or have never heard). And just wait until you hear one of the Beechnut chewing tobacco commercials.
And now, from twenty-six years ago, here's the first part of day 1 of Music City U.S.A. with T. Tommy and his co-host C.W. McCall.
[C.W.] Hi. T. Tommy. T. Tommy, huh? Want me to call you T. T.?
[T. Tommy] Or you can call me Mister Cutrer, C.W., if it's alright.
[C.W.] Mister Cutrer? T.T.? [laughs]
[T. Tommy] No, call me what you want to. What does 'C.W.' stand for?
[C.W.] Well, the 'W' stands for my real name, William, or Willy; everybody calls me Willy. And the 'C' is my grandfather's name, Carl.
[T. Tommy] But you adapted it. Adopted it.
[C.W.] Right. My real name is actually Bill Fries and the 'C.W. McCall' is a stage name that I, I came up with for some television commercials that I wrote, and that's what got me started in this whole crazy, messed-up mess, anyway.
[T. Tommy] What were the television commercials?
[C.W.] They were for a bread company that you probably never heard of, the Old Home Bread Company, and they're outta Sioux City, Iowa.
[T. Tommy] Is that any relation to the Old Home Shoot-'Em-Up Café?
[C.W.] That's where it got started: the Old Home Filler-Up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café. And so I created this character named C.W. McCall who drives a truck, see? And a waitress named Mavis. And there's a romance goin' on between these two and, ah, then later on I did a record, see, I was the voice on the soundtrack that everybody heard. And I did a record called "The Old Home Filler-Up An' Keep On Truckin' Café" and it took off, and we sold about 35,000 copies up in the upper Midwest.
[T. Tommy] That's nice.
[C.W.] And well, it made enough noise and people in Nashville and L.A. and New York heard about it and pretty soon we began to get some offers from record companies around the country to take it and go national with it. And we finally signed a contract with MGM Records, and here we are now.
[T. Tommy] That's a pretty good outfit to sign with, C.W. Be alright.
[C.W.] Yeah. Yeah, they're alright.
[T. Tommy] How about this latest one that's been released? And this is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
[C.W.] "Black Bear Road".
[T. Tommy] Yes.
[C.W.] Yeah, well, that's a true experience. About ten years ago... I happen to be very interested in four-wheel drive vehicles and the way I got interested in it was my wife and I, and the kids, and our dog and everybody was, we're out in the Rocky Mountains and we rented a Jeep, in a little town called Ouray, Colorado. And they told us that the best road to get to Telluride, which is over a mountains, mountain range, is by way of Black Bear Road. But I tell ya, if you've got your mind and you wits together you don't ever go on Black Bear Road, 'cause it's the worst road on the North American continent.
[T. Tommy] Stay away from it. (Laughs)
[C.W.] That's right.
[T. Tommy] Let's listen to the story, C.W.
[C.W.] All right.
[T. Tommy] Here's "Black Bear Road". C.W. McCall.
Song A’ Th’ Week
Words without music. Call 'em poems.
The worst road on the North American continent. Bill said so.
Black Bear Road
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album
Black Bear Road
Me an' RJ an' the kids was on a camp-out in the mountains, and we had us one'a them U-Drive-'Em Army Jeep cars which we rented from a fella by the name of Kubozke for thirty bucks a day, buy your gas along the way, take a rabbit's foot and leave a pint of blood for a dee-posit.
And he 'splained it all to us how we was supposed to get to Telluride, which is fifty miles away by way of the regular highway, however, there was a shortcut but unless we had drove the Black Bear Road before, we'd better be off to stay, stay in bed and sleep late. (Pay no attention to the gitar there.)
Well, we took up off'n the highway and we come upon a sign says "Black Bear Road. You don't have to be crazy to drive this road, but it helps." I says, "RJ, this must the shortcut road Kubozke was talkin' about." She didn't pay no mind, 'cause she was makin' peanut butter sandwiches for the kids in the back seat throwin' rocks and drinkin' Kool-Aid and playin' count-the-license-plates. But they wasn't havin' too much fun a-countin' license plate or cars, 'cause there weren't no other cars.
We went about a mile-and-a-half in about four hours, busted off the right front fender, tore a hole in the oil pan on a rock as big as a hall closet. Went over a bump and spilt the Kool-Aid and Roy Gene stuck his bolo knife right through the convertible top and the dog threw up all over the back seat. Peanut butter don't agree with him, you see.
So we had to stop and take off the top and air everything out and clean it up. The dog run off and RJ says she felt her asthma comin' on. I was sittin' there wonderin' what to do when the en-tire scenic San Joo-wan U-Drive-'Em Army Jeep car sank in the mud. At thirteen thousand feet above sea level.
Well, we shoveled it out and ate our lunch, the dog made a yellow hole in the snow and Roy Gene got out his Instamatic and took a snapshot of it. Mary Elizabeth drawed a picture of the road; it looked like a whole bunch a' Zs and Ws all strung together. And RJ took one look at it and said that the only way that Jeep car is goin' down that road is over her dead body. Then a rock slipped out from under the wheel and the U-Drive-'Em Army Jeep car went right over the edge of the cliff. Yahoo-oo-oo-oo!
"Doggone-it, Roy Gene! How many times do I have to 'splain it to you? When I tell you to put a rock under the wheel, I mean rock! Now look at that, what you have there is no bigger'n a grapefruit."
The Legend-News is Copyright 2001 TechRen Enterprises. "…and Harry Potter and all of his wizard friends went straight to Hell for practicing witchcraft." Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music.