Hits That Marked History
In the mid-1970s, two singles appeared on Billboard’s pop and country charts that were destined for greatness. They built their storylines on the national CB radio craze at the time. One was a novelty number called “Convoy”. An enormous blockbuster by C. W. McCall. The hit topped the Billboard country chart for six weeks. Similarly. a serious piece titled “Teddy Bear” by Red Sovine. The song was a heart-wrenching tale of a crippled boy relating his sad life story to a trucker on a CB radio. It spent three weeks at #1 on the country chart.
These were history-making records. However, there was one more chart-topping country hit about the CB radio fad of that era. It was called “The White Knight,” performed by an outfit that called itself “Cledus Maggard & The Citizen’s Band.” A novelty record along with a similar pattern as “Convoy.” “The White Knight” was conceived, written and recorded by Jay Huguely. He worked for the Leslie Advertising Agency in Greenville, South Carolina
A Song that Would Become a Hit
Jay Huguely went to work for Leslie Advertising, he wasn’t even aware of the citizen’s band radio craze that was catching on around the nation. Company president Bill Leslie suggested this new fad might have some advertising potential. However, Huguely was unfamiliar with the entire movement. Leslie asked Jay to borrow a CB radio and park by the interstate to get a “feel” for the CB jargon.
He went out on I-85 and listened for about an hour. Jay Huguely came back to the office and asked his boss,
“Could you please tell me what all that stuff means?”
Leslie provided Jay with a CB dictionary that explained the terminology and Huguely built “The White Knight’s” storyline from there. The project started alongside the highway at 3:00 in the afternoon and was finished by midnight. The song actually took very little time to write. After that, the rest of the time was spent putting the record together.
Originally, “The White Knight” was pitched to Sears & Roebuck as a commercial idea, but when Sears mixed it, 2,000 copies were pressed for local distribution. After that, Greenville radio station played the record and all 2,000 was sold out in one week. After that, Mercury Records purchased the master and was set to release it nationally when Huguely suggested a new moniker for himself.
Jay is Cledus Maggard
About 20 years earlier, Huguely had worked at a radio station and performed skits on the air. One of his continuing characters was called “Cledus Maggard”. When “The White Knight” was being planned for a nationwide distribution, he thought that “Jay Huguely” didn’t sound right for a person doing that type of song. Then, the name of one of his old radio characters, “Cledus Maggard,” immediately came to mind.
“The White Knight” became a No. 1 single, although Huguely never earned another country hit. Thereafter, he resumed his acting career, performing in the 1982 Broadway show “Play Me A Country Song.” Also, he wrote scripts for the short-lived television series.