The death was confirmed by his son Bill Fries III. Mr Fries announced in February that he was receiving hospice care for cancer.
After creating the character of CW McCall, a truck driver in a series of commercials for the Midwestern Bread Company, Mr. Fries (pronounced “freeze”) adopted the name as his alter ego and several humorous, remarks about Renegade Long-hall. Recorded freewheeling songs. truckers
I say, Earl, “I’m not the type to complain
But it’s time for me to explain
that if you don’t put some brakes real soon
we have to pick them up
with a stick and a spoon,
His most famous song wasconvoywhich became a #1 country and pop hit in January 1976, pushing the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” to the top of the Billboard charts.
Mr. Fries wrote down the words of the “convoy” and carried them in a deep, fast-moving twig. The song helped popularize the lingo used by truck drivers on their Citizen Band, or CB, radio and is almost incomprehensible without a vocabulary of CB words.
The name, or “handle”, of the song’s central character is Rubber Duck, and he chats with another driver, Pig Penn, who carries a load of funk hogs, which becomes a joke throughout the song. They are joined by a driver in “Cab-over Pete with a reefer on” – a refrigerated Peterbilt truck with the cab above the engine – heads east from Shake Town, or Los Angeles, and “Mercy Lives, Looks like we found a convoy.”
“I’m about to put the hammer down,” says Rubber Duck, which means he’s going to drive as fast as he can, while keeping an eye out for people wearing “smoky” or flat-brimmed hats to highway patrol officers. By Smokey Bear. As more trucks come along, McCall chants, “We’ll ‘roll this truck in convoy’ crossing the USA.”
By the time they reach Tulsa, there are 85 speeding trucks, and “their smoky bumpers are as thick as worms. They even had a bear in the air”—a police helicopter. As they head to Chi-Town (Chicago), trucks move faster and the tales grow taller as the convoy passes “reinforcements from the Illy-Noise National Guard”: “Okay, we shot the line And we went broke with a thousand screaming trucks… We crash the gate doing 98, I say, ‘Let them roll the truckers.’ ,
This was not the first song about escaping the police on the open road. Chuck Berry recordedMaybelline“In 1955, and Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen had a hit with a remake of the old rockabilly tune of the early 1970s”hot rod lincolnBut the “Convoy” came as truckers faced rising fuel costs and 55 mph speed limits nationwide, and CB radio use was becoming widespread.
“It was timely,” Mr. Fries told the Associated Press in 1990. “Back in 1975-76, this craze was rampant in the country. The jargon was colorful, and the American public liked it too. It was full of humor, but there was a rebellious spirit about it and people responded.
“Convoy” sold an estimated 7 million copies and became an unexpected event, giving birth to Peckinpah. 1978 film of the same name starring Kris Kristofferson. During the same period, Burt Reynolds’ “Smokey and the Bandit” films were box-office hits, and Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s “Outlaw” country music was gaining popularity.
“We’ve always taken ourselves seriously, but we never thought it would get this big,” said Mr Fries in 1975. It spread like a grass fire.”
Performing as McCall, Mr. Fries had five other Top 20 country hits, including the sentimental 1977 ballad “Rose for mom.” He sold nearly 20 million records before largely abandoning his performing career in the late 1970s.
Wearing jeans, a vest and a battered cowboy hat, Mr. Fries performed as McCall on network television programs, including Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” and major national concerts.
“People came out to see me, but I didn’t know what I looked like. They just knew my voice,” he told the Associated Press. “So I had to learn to be a face. It meant a lot of rehearsing and learning the business of stage show business: how The CW McCall was supposed to act and look. It was an identity crisis.”
Billy Dale Fries was born on November 15, 1928, in Audubon, Iowa. His father was a foreman in a company that built agricultural buildings. Both his parents played musical instruments, and Mr. Fries had early aspirations to be a classical musician.
Mr. Fries – who later legally changed his name to William Dale Fries Jr. – played clarinet in the band at the University of Iowa and later studied art and filmmaking.
He moved to Omaha in the early 1950s, where he was an artist and set designer at a television station before joining the Bozel & Jacobs advertising agency in 1961. He eventually became creative director and vice president.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Fries was asked to design an advertising campaign for Old Home Bread, which was sold in several Midwestern states. He created the characters of CW McCall and a gum-chewing waitress named Mavis at the Old Home Filler-Up and ‘Keep On-A-Truckin’ Cafe.
“CW McCall, and I run for Old Home. You can call me CW”
The ads became so popular that viewers called TV stations to ask when the spots would air, and they won a national award. Cleo Award for Advertising in 1974 For Best American Television Campaign.
Mr Fries’ musical partner was Chip Davis, the jingle composer for Bozel and Jacobs, who wrote the music for most of CW McCall’s songs. Davies became the creative force behind the Mannheim Steamrollers, a Grammy-winning group that mixes classical and new age musical elements.
Mr. Fries left Bozel & Jacobs in the mid-1970s and stopped performing as The CW McCall by 1980. He recorded a few other songs while in retirement in Ore, Colo., which he called “a mining town with mountains”. Around and a population of 680 when we are all here.” He served as mayor from 1986 to 1992.
Survivors included his wife of 70 years, Reina Bonema Fries; and three children, Bill Fries III, Mark Fries and Nancy Fries; A sister; four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; And a great-grandson.
“Okay, for mercy’s sake, good friend, we’re gonna get back from here,” CW McCall says at the end of “Convoy”, with a slight variation of a trucker’s farewell: “Get the bug off your glass. Keep and keep the bear away from your … tail.”
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