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5/26/2003
SPECIAL REPORT: C.W. McCall puts his voice behind OOIDA’s June Safety Month

June Safety Month has picked up plenty of important endorsements – from congressmen, radio personalities, truckers and others. But now it’s picked up one from a unique and legendary source – the Rubber Duck, better known as C.W. McCall.

Bill Fries, a singer who used the stage name C.W. McCall, is well-known among truckers for his 1975 hit, “Convoy,” the story of truckers joining together and crossing the country in a massive convoy. He went on to record “Wolf Creek Pass,” another trucking anthem.

Fries, now a resident of Colorado, recently told Land Line what he thinks of OOIDA’s June Safety Month.

“I see Congress has got a resolution … everybody seems to be very enthusiastic about the idea,” Fries said. “And you can count me in on that, too.

 “I support wholeheartedly your effort in June Safety Month,” Fries said. “Carry on.”

Fries said his interest in truckers and their profession started during the energy crisis in the mid-1970s. Fries said he wrote the song “Convoy” about what he saw – truckers reacting to the oil shortages and the new 55 mph speed limit, both of which were making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to earn a living.

In the song, Fries, playing the leader of the convoy, used the CB handle “Rubber Duck.”

“It was sort of like writing about what was happening out there on the highways,” he said. “Ever since then, it’s been sort of an anthem, you might say, for truckers.”

Over the years, he has been in contact with many people in the trade, and to this day still describes them in fond terms.

“I think truckers are the greatest people on Earth,” Fries said. “I’ve had enough experience with them now to know that they’d just give their right arm for you.

“I’ve seen them out on the highway doing things you wouldn’t believe,” he added. “Taking care of people and helping people out. They’re just great guys – and women too.”

C.W. McCall’s two most famous songs were recently included on a compact disc of patriotic songs by Mannheim Steamroller called “American Spirit.” The disc also includes Fries on the title track talking about the meaning of the Fourth of July.

Mannheim Steamroller, known for both its Christmas recordings and the “Fresh Aire” series of New Age CDs, was McCall’s backup band on “Convoy.”

On Nov. 1, 2002, the OOIDA board of directors voted to promote and sponsor The OOIDA Truck Safety Month. The safety month is scheduled for June 2003. It will coincide with the annual CVSA nationwide commercial vehicle inspection week. All drivers are encouraged to take a stand and operate in strict compliance with all laws and commercial vehicle safety regulations.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark Reddig can be reached at mark_reddig@landlinemag.com.

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