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Merle Haggard

Red Simpson dies at 81; musician's trucker songs helped drive the Bakersfield sound

Red Simpson dies at 81; musician's trucker songs helped drive the Bakersfield sound

Red Simpson, Bakersfield musician and Dust Bowl migrant whose 1971 country hit "I'm a Truck" helped propel a national enthusiasm for romantic truck-driving lore, has died.

He died Friday in Bakersfield after suffering complications from a heart attack, said his daughter Mechelle "Missy" Simpson of Pensacola, Fla. He was 81.

Bob Dylan once described Simpson as "the forgotten man of the Bakersfield sound." He never attained the stature of Merle Haggard, with whom he co-wrote songs, or Buck Owens, who sang some of his best, notably "Close Up the Honky Tonks."

But he was their friend and collaborator, and scored his own moderate hits...

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