Simpson was working at the Wagon Wheel in Lamont when Fuzzy Owens saw him and arranged for Simpson to work at his Clover Club as a piano player. He then got a job replacing Buck Owens at the Blackboard Club on weekends. Simpson was influenced by Owens, Merle Haggard and Bill Woods, who asked Red if he would write a song about driving trucks. (By the time Simpson handed him four truck songs, however, Woods had stopped recording.) Simpson began writing songs with Owens in 1962, including the Top Ten hit “Gonna Have Love.”
In 1965, Capitol records producer Ken Nelson was looking for someone to record some songs about trucking. His first choice was Haggard, who wasn’t interested, but Simpson readily agreed. His first, Tommy Collins’ “Roll, Truck, Roll,” became a Top 40 country hit and Simpson recorded an album of the same name. That year he offered up two more trucking songs, both of which made it to the Top 50 or beyond. As a songwriter, he scored his first number one hit with “Sam’s Place,” recorded by Buck Owens. After that, Simpson decided to become a full-time writer. He returned to performing in 1971 with his Top Five hit “I’m a Truck,” which had been written by postman Bob Staunton.
In 1972, he debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and had two more “truck” hits for Capitol. In 1976, Simpson signed to Warner Brothers and released “Truck Driver’s Heaven.” The following year, he teamed up with Lorraine Walden for a series of duets that included “Truck Driver Man and Wife.” In 1979, Simpson appeared for the last time on the charts with “The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver.” Haggard recorded his song “Lucky Old Colorado” in 1988. Later that year Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer and underwent surgery, but he fully recovered and continued his writing and performing career.
In the 1995, Red re-entered the studio to record a pair of duets with Junior Brown — “Semi Crazy” and “Nitro Express”.
Although Simpson no longer tours, he performs frequently in the Bakersfield area including a regular Monday night gig at Trout’s in Oildale. Simpson’s most recent release is “Hey, Bin Laden”. He is also working on a project with Windsor Music tentatively entitled The Bard of Bakersfield.
Edited by snuff238 on 18 Mar 2009, 07:32
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