What We Got Here
- Happy Birthday to Bill! Birthday boy reaches 84.
- We Get Letters: Some people just don’t understand the passage of time.
- C.W. Sightings Bashed-in the side of the feed store.
- ConvoyTM.com New! Improved!
- Previously, in The Legend-News: One Hit Wonder, My @$$!
- Song A’ Th’ Month: “Nishnabotna”
Happy Birthday to Bill!
The winds have grown cold, the sun shines less, which means it’s time for yet another
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILL FRIES!
Yes, the real C.W. McCall has been hanging around for 84 years now. Congratulations, Bill!
We Get Letters
Long-time readers may know that when someone wants to contact Bill Fries, I usually get their letter. They’ve found this web site (We’re Number One! We’re Number One!) and, hoping that I’m the guy that can get things done, they’ve sent a message to me, asking that I pass their request on to Bill.
But some people visiting this site find a surface mail address, and despite the fact that the address is over 35 years old (C.W. McCall was most popular in the 1970s), they write a letter to that address. This address appeared on the page about the C.W. McCall Fan Club:
On the inside front cover of the LP Black Bear Road, there was an invitation:
Yes, “[Address omitted]”. I removed that address, because I received this message:
We run the recording studio located at [address omitted].
We noticed that our address is still advertised as where to send $2.25 to join the fan club.
Within your site, you actually have Bill's correct address in Ouray.
Please remove our address at the front of your museum page as the spot to join the fan club.
I still get fan letters, etc. for Bill and I do forward them along.
Now, I understand why we still get these letters!
Thanks for your help.
Terri is Terri Ware, of Ware House Productions. The building they have was once the location of Don Sears’ Sound Recorders, where the original C.W. McCall recordings were made. But Sound Recorders isn’t there anymore, and neither is the C.W. McCall Fan Club! This has not stopped some fans of C.W. McCall from writing to Bill Fries at that address in Omaha.
The moral of this story? There is no C.W. McCall Fan Club. That was a long time ago. And 25¢ for postage? Like that doesn’t scream “a long time ago”!
So, if you find an address for the C.W. McCall Fan Club, do not write to that address. If you want to write to Bill Fries, he’s at PO Box E, Ouray, Colorado 81427.
Pagosa Springs, best known to C.W. McCall fans as the location of a slightly-damaged feed store (see “Wolf Creek Pass ”) is having difficulties with its historic (or maybe not-historic) Lewis Street. In Part Two of the five-part series:
“The business was family owned for more than 30 years. San Juan Supply also owned semi trucks that transported cattle in and out of the area. The store gained fame with the song, ‘Wolf Creek Pass’, written and recorded by C.W. McCall.”
David Frederick is working on an update to his website, ConvoyTM.com, which is dedicated to the Greatest Trucking Movie Ever Made. By the time that you read this, his site might be finished.
Previously, in The Legend-News
From the 2002 July 15 issue of The Legend-News.
One Hit Wonder, My @$$!
VH1 mixes fact with fiction
A few months ago, the cable television music channel VH1 broadcast a five-part series on the “Top 100 One Hit Wonders”: artists who, in the estimation of VH1, had only acheived success with a single song and then disappeared from the music scene. Among those 100 choices was C.W. McCall, whose signature song “Convoy” appears as number 73 in the One Hit Wonder countdown.
William Shatner hosted the series, providing introductions and interstitial comments on the songs of the countdown. Shatner is best known for his own rendition of “Convoy”, which he performed in a television commercial for the Internet site PriceLine.com. Shatner also has appeared in many movies and television series, including the three-season wonder Star Trek which originally aired in the 1960s and was the first television series to be cancelled twice.
For those of you who had missed the Top 100 One Hit Wonders, which contained fewer still pictures than a Ken Burns documentary, The Legend-News provides this transcript of the two minute, twenty second segment about “Convoy”. In this transcript, Video: indicates a description of the pictures that are being displayed; Narrator: is the voice of the narrator (whose identity we do not know); and Info: is text that was displayed at the bottom of the screen. All song lyrics are shown in italic. Legend-News: indicates scurrilous comments by this publication; those comments are not part of the actual transcript of this segment.
Video: Over a split-screen of 18-wheelers, a trucker on the CB, and C.W. McCall singing, VH1’s One Hit Wonders continued.
Info: 73 / C.W. McCall / Convoy
Yeah, that’s a big 10-4 there, Pig Pen. We definitely got the front door, good buddy. Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy.
Narrator: CB radios had been around for years, but few people other than truckers knew about them. That was until the mid-’70s when the trucker assumed a rebel status and a CB obsession swept America. C.W. McCall capitalized on the craze with his 1975 hit, “Convoy”.
With the dark of the moon
On the sixth of June
In a Kenworth pullin’ logs
Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin’ hogs
Info: First Lady Betty Ford joined the CB craze, using the handle “First Mama”.
Info: Rob Sheffield, music journalist.
Sheffield: It was a time when trucker lingo was big. It was right after the big trucking strike in the early ’70s which brought a lot of media attention to truckers.
Video: Pictures of Bill Fries as C.W. McCall.
Narrator: But “Convoy” singer C.W. McCall wasn’t a real live trucker. In fact, there wasn't even a real live C.W. McCall.
Video: Clips from the first Old Home Bread commercial. C.W. pulls his truck up to the pumps outside the Old Home Café.
Narrator: “Convoy’ sprang from a series of television commercials created by advertising executives Bill Fries and Chip Davis. The ads featured a trucker named C.W. McCall.
[Legend-News: Chip Davis was an advertising executive?]
Video: The commercial continues. C.W. is inside the Café, and Mavis (the waitress) takes his order.
Put a patty on the grill and back she came
Says “Tell me, truck man. What’s your name?”
I said, “C.W. McCall, and I haul for Old Home.
“You can call me C.W.”
Video: Bill Fries, in his appearance on The Mike Douglas Show.
Info: Bill Fries, AKA C.W. McCall.
Bill Fries: It was kinda like a soap opera. We kept writing new installments and everything. What everbody didn“t realize was that I was the voice that they heard.
Video: The commercial continues. C.W. McCall drives away from the Old Home Café.
Narrator: With the commercials drawing national attention, the duo released a C.W. McCall album.
Video: A picture of the cover of C.W. McCall’s Greatest Hits, but with only the words “C.W. McCall” at the top center of the cover.
[Legend-News: Like they couldn’t find a copy of Wolf Creek Pass, the first album; or even Black Bear Road, on which “Convoy” appeared?]
Narrator: More than five million bears, good buddies and rubber ducks made “Convoy” a world-wide phenomenon.
Video: A page from Billboard, showing the “Top Hits” with “Convoy” listed at number one, plus the page from the article in People Magazine. Also, more 18-wheelers on the road.
Info: Bill Fries was elected mayor of Ouray, Colorado in the 1980’s.
’Cause we got a little ol’ convoy,
Truckin’ through the night
Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy,
Ain’t she a beautiful sight?
Info: Nile Rodgers, musician/producer
Rodgers: To me, that sorta whole hillbilly, Smokey and The Bandit kinda thing was pretty revolutionary for America.
[Legend-News: We guess that Niles was about five years old when “Convoy” was popular.]
Video: Scenes from The Motion Picture CONVOY. Two 18-wheelers squash a cop car between them; and the Rubber Duck leads the convoy, crashing through a roadblock.
Rodgers: Just the whole concept of the confrontation with the cops, and they’re gonna have this huge convoy of trucks and they’re gonna smash through stuff.
Narrator: By the time CONVOY the movie was released in 1978, the CB fad had already run out of gas. Bill Fries returned to the advertising game, but Chip Davis stayed in the music business. He sold more than 18 million records, recording as pioneering New Age act Mannheim Steamroller.
Keep the bugs off your glass,
And the bears off your tail
William Shatner: C.W. McCall wasn’t the first one hit wonder to strike gold with a novelty song, and he wasn’t the last, either. Hang onto your rubber duckie: here’s a look at the other novelty songs just novel enough to top the charts.
[Legend-News: But that’s a story for someone else to tell. Curiously, the other songs that are mentioned do not include Shatner’s own “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Maybe it wasn’t novel enough?]
Ken Thompson notes that One Hit Wonder Central has a page on C.W. McCall.
Song A’ Th’ Month
This is a companion to “Audubon”: another piece of the early life of Bill Fries.
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album
One time when I’s growin’ up — it was when I’s a kid — there was nothin’ to do at home so I called up on a friend an’ said “Let’s pack us a box lunch an’ go down to the Nishnabotna an’ go swimmin’. An’ maybe look for some toads.”
My friend said he thought that’s a good idea ’cause he didn’t have nothin’ to do either an’ he was outta toads.
So we packed up our box lunches an’ we started out a-walkin’, an’ we come to a big iron bridge which was five miles from town where we observed a big sign which says “West Nishnabotna”. I says “This here’s the place, an’, an’ now if we could just find some toads an’ go for a good swim, we could have fun all day doin’ nothin’, just loafin’ around in the creek.”
We jumped into that dirty water an’ I thought we might be able to swim in it, but we quickly discovered that we could not even begin to dog-paddle in it. Be, because right where we was, the Nishnabotna was only four-an’-a-half inches deep. So we wound up a-crawlin’ along down on all fours in it, through the mud an’ beer cans an’ yucky things an’ old pieces a’ cars.
We went past a bunch a’ fenders an’ a couple a’ Plymouth hubcaps, when we come to a place where we thought there might be some toads. When we was surprised by a farmer who told us to get on out of there an’ to never come back or he’d call up the sheriff an’ have us put into jail for the rest of our natural-born lives with nothin’ to eat but bread an’ water so we’d starve.
But time passes by real quickly when you’re havin’ fun, so we ran through the fenders and the mud to the bridge again. But when we got back there we sadly discovered that the sun had been out and our backs was all blistered so bad we had to lay flat on our bellies for two weeks in bed which made us sick to our stomachs an’ we didn’t care about nothin’ anymore.
It just ain’t too good for your livers to go swimmin’ in that river. You can get cut up pretty bad in there an’ there ain’t too many toads.
There’s nothin’ but, There’s nothin’ but mud in there an’ there’s all kinds a’ crud, an’ it’s layin’ all over the place so you’d better watch out.
If you wanna get sick, just go crawlin’ around in that creek. There’s a whole lot a’ bad things that can happen to you.
No, it ain’t, No, it ain’t good for your liver to hunt toads in that river. The West Nishnabotna is the creek of my childhood.
“Nishnabotna” appears on the 2012 release of Wolf Creek Pass.
The Legend-News is published sorta monthly by TechRen Enterprises, in dire need of a really large loan. Copyright 2012 TechRen Enterprises. Send subscription requests, unsubscribe demands, complaints, kudos, suggestions, news and other contributions to Legend-News@cw-mccall.com. Almost everything in The Legend-News has been written by Ed. Floden, except for the stuff that he blames on someone else. “He was faster, that’s all.”