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Red Simpson in 1966
|Birth name||Joe Cecil Simpson|
March 6, 1934|
Higley, Arizona, United States
|Died||January 8, 2016
Bakerfield, California, United States
|Instruments||Guitar, Keyboard, Banjo, Fiddle, Mandolin, Pedal Steel|
Simpson was working at the Wagon Wheel in Lamont when Fuzzy Owen saw him and arranged for Simpson to work at his Clover Club as a piano player. He then got a job replacing Buck Owens at the Blackboard Club on weekends. Simpson was influenced by Owens, Merle Haggard and Bill Woods, who asked Red if he would write a song about driving trucks. (By the time Simpson handed him four truck songs, however, Woods had stopped recording.) Simpson began writing songs with Owens in 1962, including the Top Ten hit "Gonna Have Love."
In 1965, Capitol records producer Ken Nelson was looking for someone to record some songs about trucking. His first choice was Haggard, who wasn't interested, but Simpson readily agreed. His first, Tommy Collins' "Roll, Truck, Roll," became a Top 40 country hit and Simpson recorded an album of the same name. That year he offered up two more trucking songs, both of which made it to the Top 50 or beyond. As a songwriter, he scored his first number one hit with "Sam's Place," recorded by Buck Owens. After that, Simpson decided to become a full-time writer. He returned to performing in 1971 with his Top Five hit "I'm a Truck," which had been written by postman Bob Staunton.
In 1972, he debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and had two more "truck" hits for Capitol. In 1976, Simpson signed to Warner Brothers and released "Truck Driver's Heaven." The following year, he teamed up with Lorraine Walden for a series of duets that included "Truck Driver Man and Wife." In 1979, Simpson appeared for the last time on the charts with "The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver." Haggard recorded his song "Lucky Old Colorado" in 1988. Later that year Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer and underwent surgery, but he fully recovered and continued his writing and performing career.
In the 1995, Red re-entered the studio to record a pair of duets with Junior Brown — "Semi Crazy" and "Nitro Express".
Simpson performed frequently in the Bakersfield area, including a regular Monday night gig at Trout's in Oildale. Simpson's most recent release is "Hey, Bin Laden". He was also working on a project with Windsor Music tentatively entitled The Bard of Bakersfield.
Simpson also appeared alongside Bakersfield business owner Gene Thome on his ode to Simpson, Haggard, and Owens "It's a Bakersfield Thing" released in early 2015. He died on January 8, 2016, at a hospital in Bakersfield.
Simpson was posthumously honored at the 2016 Ameripolitan awards. His son David Simpson accepted the "Founder of the Sound" award on his behalf.
Simpson completed his most recent album in December 2015 entitled "Soda Pops and Saturdays" with Mario Carboni. The album was recorded in Portland, OR and featured 12 tracks. Simpson plays guitar and sings lead and back up vocals on this album. Carboni plays piano, strings, and back up vocals. The album was scheduled to be released on February 4, 2016, instead, it was released on Jan. 9 2016 after his passing.
|1966||Roll Truck Roll||7||Capitol|
|The Man Behind the Badge||34|
|1967||Truck Drivin' Fool||—|
|A Bakersfield Dozen||—|
|1972||I'm a Truck and other songs of the road.||4|
|Very Real Red Simpson||—|
|20 Great Truck Hits||—|
|1995||The Best of Red Simpson||—||King|
|2005||The Bard Of Bakersfield||—|
|2016||Soda Pops and Saturdays||—|
|US Country||CAN Country|
|1966||"Roll Truck Roll"||38||—||Roll Truck Roll|
|"The Highway Patrol"||39||—||The Man Behind the Badge|
|"Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves"||41||—||Truck Drivin' Fool|
|1967||"Jeannie with the Light Brown Cadillac"||—||—||A Bakersfield Dozen|
|"He Reminds Me a Whole Lot of Me"||—||—||single only|
|1971||"I'm a Truck"||4||4||I'm a Truck|
|1972||"Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer"||62||—||Very Real Red Simpson|
|"Hold On Ma'm (You Got Yourself a Honker)"||—||—|
|"Those Forgotten Trains"||—||—||single only|
|1973||"Awful Lot to Learn About Truck Drivin'"||63||—||20 Great Truck Hits|
|"I'm a Pretty Good Man"||—||—||singles only|
|"Honky Tonk Lady's Lover Man"||—||—|
|1975||"Truck Drivin' Man"||—||—|
|1976||"Truck Driver's Heaven"||92||—|
|1979||"The Flyin' Saucer Man and the Truck Driver"||99||—|
|1984||"Hello I'm a Truck" (re-recording of I'm a Truck)||—||—|
|"Time Changes Everything"||—||—|
|1985||"Waitin' on a Catfish"||—||—|
- "Red Simpson, Who Made Trucks a Vehicle for the Bakersfield Sound, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
- Mayer, Steven. "Bakersfield Sound pioneer Red Simpson dies at 81 - The Bakersfield Californian". Bakersfield.com. Retrieved 2016-01-10.