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C.W. McCall

Biography

So here's a weird story. Remember that trucking craze in the mid-1970s that spawned the film Convoy, starring a shirtless Kris Kristofferson? Well, it was all C.W. McCall's fault. But his real name isn't C.W. McCall it's William Fries. And he really wasn't a big rig driver who honked it up on his C.B.; he was an advertising executive who stumbled into a music career by accident. While working on a radio campaign for an Omaha, Nebraska bakery, Fries invented McCall as a promotional tool: a character who would haul loads of bread and call Omaha radio stations from roadside truck stops, spurting out hilarious ramblings sprinkled with C.B. radio jargon (such as his "handle," Rubber Duck) to the delight of listeners. The campaign was a huge success, with everybody in the region talking about this funny C.W. McCall guy and his crazy trucker lingo. The fabricated character was such a hit that Fries decided to do what any red blooded American would do -- cash in. He recorded an album of quasi-countrypolitan/urban cowboy songs that were all about trucking, truckers and life on the road. McCall soon had a chart-topping hit in "Convoy," which inspired critically acclaimed filmmaker Sam Peckinpah to unleash an unintentionally campy film with the same name in 1978 starring Kristofferson, who, as mentioned above, seemed to lose his shirt four minutes into the film (this delighted Ali MacGraw, who was experimenting with a new perm as well as a script that was much lighter than Love Story). Six albums later, Fries hung up the McCall moniker and became an environmental activist before moving to Ouray, Colorado where he eventually became Mayor.
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