Red Simpson/David Bowie Tribute

Shame on Zero to 180 for not celebrating Red Simpson‘s musical legacy as a pioneer of the “Bakersfield Sound” until now – after his spirit has already left this mortal plane.

I’m afraid Simpson’s passing might have gotten overlooked in all the media attention given to the unexpected loss of David Bowie.  In a playful nod to both artists, Zero to 180 thought it would be fun to feature Simpson’s last charting hit, “The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” (#99) from 1979:

“The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver”     Red Simpson     1979

“The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” would first be released in 1976 on Vancouver label, Portland Records, and then again three years later to much greater commercial acclaim on Nashville-based K.E.Y. Records.

1976 release                                             1979 re-boot

Red Simpson 45-aRed Simpson 45-b

I just saw the trailer for the 2014 documentary, Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound, and one key point really hit home:  1960s Nashville-based country was primarily “sit down” music, while the principal aim of the ‘Bakersfield Sound’ was about getting folks to dance.  Red Simpson is one of the principal architects of the Bakersfield Sound – although he does not always get proper recognition in this regard.

Worth noting that (1) Red’s professional songwriting career goes back to the Korean War era, and (2) Simpson did not actually write his biggest hit “I’m a Truck” but did, in fact, write tons of even better tunes — see special Red Simpson feature below.

1966 Capitol debut                                      1966 follow-up LP

Red Simpson LP-aRed Simpson LP-b

Red Simpson tributes from Rolling Stone, CMT, Billboard & The Bakersfield CalifornianRed Simpson’s own website is also a great source for chart and songwriting info.

Red Simpson:  Songwriter

1975 Dutch Compilation LPRed Simpson LP-c