History of "Trucker Shutdown"(1979, 2008, 2011)
I started out driving truck in the military in 1963 and then as a log hauler in northern California about 1969 hauling out of Hayfork and Forks of the Salmon and Pondosa. From there in 1972 I moved to the Columbia River Gorge and hauled logs for Broughton Lumber Company. And in 1974 I drove a truck for Roy Brown who was hauling for Louisiana Pacific and we hauled a new sawmill to Seward, Alaska. On my journey doing that I was offered a job with KAPPS Transport in Alaska. I worked for them for 4 years, all through the building of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. I hauled all kinds of goods for them, including the 80 foot pipe sections. In the winter of 1978 I went to Lewiston, Idaho to spend some time with Dale Smith and Gary Day after my mom passed away. I drove their trucks off and on that winter and in spring bought a new 1979 Kenworth and a new set of Colt grain trailers. I bought the Kenworth from Motor Power Kenworth in Great Falls, Montana and the grain trailers from Vic Hoskins. And then I hauled grain from Montana to Lewiston, Idaho. Shortly after I bought the new Kenworth fuel prices went crazy and truckers were going broke everywhere. And there was talk of a truck strike. Being a song writer I scribbled down a song at the United Grain Elevetor in Clarkston, Washington. That weekend they had a picnic at Lewiston Clark park for the Montana Idaho Grain Haulers Association and I sang the song that I had written at the picnic and it was called “Truckers Shutdown”. Clyde Longfellow and several others, decided that I should record the song so the next day Clyde and I flew from Lewiston to Nashville and I recorded “Truckers Shutdown”. We flew back and brought 5 copies with us. Clyde took 3 copies and I took 2 copies to Portland, Oregon where I was loading furniture to move to Lewiston. Clyde took one copy to KGA radio in Spokane, Washington and I was in Jubits truck stop and there was about 200 trucks that had shutdown there. I met one of the spokesmen there named Bill Parmain, I told him I had just written a song about a shutdown and they had a gathering of about a 100 people there in the parking lot and they had me sing it to them. They all cheered it on and ralied to the song. I told them I had a copy of it and they took it somewhere in Portland and made 10 copies of it. And within 24 hours it was being played all around Portland. And now they had about 400 people in the group in Portland. They didn’t really have a leader for this group, several people were claiming to be leaders but as I was among them I met a gentleman by the name of Dave Crandell and I seen that he was very knowledgeable with trucking and not a radical and they had a big meeting trying to figure out who was going to run the Northwest Truckers Shutdown. They had me sing the truckers shutdown song at the meeting and when the song was over and I went over to stand by Dave Crandell and told everyone in the group that I thought he should be our leader. And within 5 minutes they all agreed. And Bill Parmain became second in command and Steve Didarow became the person that watched Dave and Bill’s backs and Ken and Milly Willard and Dave Hitman and his wife were also instrumental in helping keep everyone safe during this time. This is where I also met Terry Reeves who became a good friend. And Terry also drove my truck in the shutdown parades so that I could play music on the flatbed. The shutdown lasted about 30 days and Dave Crandell with a group of other shutdown people from around the United States went to Washington, DC and they came to an agreement with the government that there be a fuel surcharge and when they came back out west they had this in writing as a signed document. They all agreed that the song “Truckers Shutdown” had held us together, it was our anthem.
When the shutdown was over, the truck Terry Reeves had been driving was repossessed so I took him to Lewiston and let him drive grain truck with me for about 5 months, and then he went onto another job. Through the years I’ve been running trucks through the west and up to and into Alaska and have never left the trucking industry and in 2008 when fuel went to 5 dollars a gallon I brought the song “Truckers Shutdown” out again. It was played on a few stations in America and also in Australia and Norway but fuel prices started dropping so the song kinda faded.
I’ve changed the song a bit for 2011 as to match what is happening with our fuel prices today. Our government is out of control with what to do with fuel prices. I would like for every trucker to think very seriously as to where the fuel surcharge actually came from. It goes back to 1979 when a group of truckers across America fought for decent fuel prices and gained a surcharge with a little song called “Truckers Shutdown” holding them all together. Every trucker man, woman, team across America and beyond should become one voice we are truckers and we will not be stepped on anymore. So I really believe, the way fuel prices are the way they are today, that we really need to rally to make a change in the fuel prices.
The following video is a video that a trucker made with Sam's song "Trucker Shutdown" in it from 2008.