This surprising short audio piece from NPR delves into the history of the trucker protest anthem “Convoy” — and the surprising truth about the man who sings it.
The NPR piece looks into how the gas crisis of 1976 and a federally imposed nationwide speed limit of 55 m.p.h. took its toll on trucking. It was in this tough environment that the CB radio forged bonds between truckers, creating community and shaping the lingo that still defines the trucking industry to this day.
It was also during this tumultuous time in trucking that Omaha-based advertising executive Bill Fries listened in on the CB radio and learned the trucker slang helped him create the character C.W. McCall as part of an ad campaign to help promote a local bakery called the Metz Baking Company.
The character was so popular that Fries, who continued to use the C.W. McCall alter ego, went on to record “Aforementioned Café” in 1974 and followed it up with one of the best-loved songs in trucking — “Wolf Creek Pass.”
Eventually Fries went on to write the classic trucking song “Convoy” as C.W. McCall, which topped the charts and was featured in the film of the same name.
You can listen to the NPR segment below.