‘Convoy’ Singer C.W. McCall Dead at 93

C.W. McCall, who was best known for his massive 1975 hit “Convoy,” has died after a battle with cancer.

The Washington Post reports that McCall died on Friday (April 1) at his home in Ouray, Colo. He was 93 years old.

McCall, whose real name was Bill Fries, was an advertising executive in the early 1970s, and he first conceived the character of C.W. McCall for a 1973 advertising spot for Old Home Bread. That ad spot won a Clio Award, which led Fries — performing as the character from the commercial, who was a truck driver — to record a number of albums filled with humor-tinged songs, many of which referenced Outlaw Country themes and the life of a long-haul driver.

McCall scored a string of hit country singles from 1974 to 1978 that included “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe,” “Wolf Creek Pass,” “Classified,” “There Won’t Be No Country Music (There Won’t Be No Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and “Roses for Mama,” but his biggest hit by far was “Convoy,” which reached No. 1 in January of 1976. Recorded at the height of the CB radio craze, the song became a cultural touchstone, even inspiring a major motion picture in 1978 that starred Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw and Ernest Borgnine.

McCall had a longstanding musical partnership with Chip Davis, who began his career writing jingles for the same ad agency. The pair collaborated on most of the C.W. McCall hits, with Davis writing the music, while McCall wrote the words and delivered the vocals.

Following his run of success in music, McCall went on to serve as mayor in Ouray, Colo., from 1986-1992, while Davis, who founded Mannheim Steamroller in 1974 to explore a juxtaposition of modern pop and traditional classical forms of music, went on to massive success with that band.

McCall revealed during a radio interview in February that he was in hospice care with cancer. At the time, “Convoy” was finding a new life as the unofficial theme song for the “Freedom Convoy” of Canadian truckers who were protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by shutting down roads and bridges, and he gave his blessing for the song’s use during that interview.

McCall’s son, Bill Fries III, confirmed his death to the Washington Post. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Rena Bonnema Fries; three children, Bill Fries III, Mark Fries and Nancy Fries; a sister; four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.

Funeral plans have not yet been announced.

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