C. W. McCall

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C. W. McCall
Birth name William Dale Fries, Jr.
Born (1928-11-15) November 15, 1928 (age 86)
Audubon, Iowa
Genres Country
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 1974-present
Labels MGM, Polydor, Mercury

C. W. McCall is the pseudonym of William Dale Fries, Jr. (born November 15, 1928, Audubon, Iowa, United States), an American singer, activist and politician known for his truck-themed outlaw country songs. While most of the songs tended to be humorous or amusing, even reaching it could be said somewhat into the "Novelty" category, some also had serious commentary rooted in environmental conservation & protection issues of their day. Historic western U.S. places or events were another frequent subject, while some others were written to reflect patriotic themes or as commentary on the political climate of the era & times during which they were released in.

Biography[edit]

In 1973, while working as a creative director for Bozell & Jacobs, an Omaha, Nebraska, advertising agency, Fries created a Clio Award-winning (1974) television advertising campaign advertising Old Home Bread for the Metz Baking Company. The advertisements featured a truck driver named C. W. McCall, who was played by Dallas, Texas, actor Jim Finlayson. The waitress named Mavis Davis was played by Dallas actress Jean McBride Capps. The commercial's success led to songs such as "Old Home Filler-Up an' Keep on a-Truckin' Café", "Wolf Creek Pass" and "Black Bear Road". Fries wrote the lyrics and sang while Chip Davis, later of Mannheim Steamroller, wrote the music.

McCall is best known for the 1976 #1 hit song "Convoy", which came at the peak of the CB fad in the United States. It sold over two million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in December 1975.[1] Though McCall is not a one-hit wonder, "Convoy" has since become his signature song. McCall first charted the song "Wolf Creek Pass", which reached #40 on the U.S. pop top 40 in 1975. At least three other songs reached Billboard's pop Hot 100, including "Old Home Filler-Up an' Keep on a-Truckin' Cafe", "'Round the World with the Rubber Duck" (a pirate-flavored sequel to "Convoy"), as well as the environmentally-oriented "There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock 'n' Roll)". A dozen McCall songs appeared in Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, including the sentimental "Roses for Mama" (1977).

In 1978, the movie Convoy was released, based on the C.W. McCall song. The film starred Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Burt Young and Ernest Borgnine and was directed by Sam Peckinpah. It featured a new version of the song, written specially for the film.

In addition to the "original six" McCall albums released between 1975 and 1979, two rare singles exist. "Kidnap America" was a politically/socially-conscious track released in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis, while "Pine Tar Wars" referred to an event that actually happened in a New York Yankees-Kansas City Royals baseball game during 1983 (a dispute concerning the application of a large quantity of pine tar to a baseball bat used by George Brett, one of the Royals players).

In 1986, McCall (William Fries) was elected mayor of the town of Ouray, Colorado, ultimately serving for six years.[2]

In 1990, American Gramaphone Records issued a CD containing a number of old McCall tracks re-recorded for the digital CD age, plus a new song, "Comin' Back For More", which was inspired by Alferd Packer, an alleged 19th century cannibal.

In 2014, Rolling Stone magazine ranked "Convoy" #98 in their list of the 100 greatest country songs.[3]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certification
(sales threshold)
US Country US CAN NZ
1975 Wolf Creek Pass 4 143
Black Bear Road
  • Released: September 1975
  • Label: MGM Records
1 12 16 19
1976 Wilderness 9 143
Rubber Duck
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Polydor Records
29
1977 Roses for Mama
  • Released: 1977
  • Label: Polydor Records
22
1979 C. W. McCall & Co.
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Polydor Records
1990 The Real McCall: An American Storyteller
2003 American Spirit (with Mannheim Steamroller)
  • Released: May 20, 2003
  • Label: American Gramaphone
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak positions
US Country
1978 C. W. McCall's Greatest Hits
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: Polydor Records
45
1989 Four Wheel Cowboy
1991 The Legendary C. W. McCall
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: PolyGram Records
1997 The Best of C. W. McCall
  • Released: 1997
  • Label: PSM Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country US CAN Country CAN CAN AC AU NZ AUT
1974 "Old Home Filler-Up an' Keep On-a-Truckin' Cafe" 19 54 12 44 44 Wolf Creek Pass
"Wolf Creek Pass" 12 40 46
1975 "Classified" 13 101 45
"Black Bear Road" 24 42 Black Bear Road
"Convoy" 1 1 4 1 13 1 1 19
1976 "There Won't Be No Country Music
(There Won't Be No Rock 'n' Roll)"
19 73 8 77 37 77 Wilderness
"Crispy Critters" 32
"Four Wheel Cowboy" 88
"'Round the World with the Rubber Duck" 40 101 40 Rubber Duck
1977 "Audubon" 56
"Roses for Mama" 2 5 74 Roses for Mama
1978 "Outlaws and Lone Star Beer" 81 C. W. McCall & Co.
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 361. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ "'McCall' Leaves Office", Rocky Mountain News, January 14, 1992. Accessed March 25, 2008
  3. ^ "98. C.W. McCall, 'Convoy' (1975) Photo - 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2014-06-01. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 

References[edit]

  • Bernhardt, Jack. (1998). "C.W. McCall" in The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 333.

External links[edit]