C.W. McCall, Country Singer Known for ‘Convoy,’ Dies at 93

Singer, who died of cancer, had been in hospice care since February

C.W. McCall Bill Fries
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C.W McCall, the country singer known for truck-themed songs like “Convoy, died April 1 after a battle with cancer and two months in hospice. He was 93.

McCall’s death was confirmed by his friend Chip Davis, founder of the new age group Mannheim Steamroller, in a Facebook post.

Born William Fries Jr. first created the character of C.W. McCall while working as creative director for an advertising agency in Nebraska. The character, an outlaw truck driver, was featured in a series of commercials for the Midwestern bread company Old Home Bread.

Eventually, Fries adopted the alter ego for himself. Throughout his career, he had dozens of country hits including “Convoy,” “Wolf Creek Pass” and “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep on a-Truckin’ Cafe.” 

“Convoy” was the singer’s signature song, having sold an estimated 7 million copies and becoming a certified gold by the RIAA. In 1976, the single beat the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” to reach the top of the Billboard chart.

Two years later, a film of the same name was made, based on the song. The movie starred Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw and Ernest Borgnine. The song was also featured in “Grand Theft Auto V” and was ranked on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Country Songs.

In 1986, McCall successfully ran for Mayor of Ouray, Colorado. He held the title for six years.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Rena Bonnema Fries, as well as three children, Bill Fries III, Mark Fries and Nancy Fries. He is also survived by his sister, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.

The Washington Post was the first to report the news of McCall’s death.