The White Knight (Cledus Maggard song)
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"The White Knight" is a novelty country music song made famous by Jay Huguely, who - recording as Cledus Maggard & The Citizen's Band - enjoyed a brief run of national popularity with the song when it became popular in 1976.
|"The White Knight"|
|Single by Cledus Maggard & The Citizen's Band|
|from the album The White Knight|
|Released||December 1975 (U.S.)|
7:12 (extended version)
|Cledus Maggard & The Citizen's Band singles chronology|
Huguely was working as an advertising salesman at an agency named Leslie Advertising in Greenville, South Carolina in the mid-1970s when he was approached to help with an advertising campaign centering on the then fast-growing citizens' band radio craze. According to writer Tom Roland, Huguely knew little about the CB radio but agreed to help out.
After taking notes and getting help from his co-workers on deciphering the jargon, he went to work on writing a song.
Huguely's finished product was a story about an over-the-road truck driver with the handle "Super Trooper" who receives a CB call from an individual claiming to be a truck driver. Identifying himself as "The White Knight," the other driver broadcasts information to the protagonist that there are no "smokeys" (police officers) in sight. Truck drivers regularly relied on each other to watch for such "smokeys" so they could circumvent the still widely unpopular National Maximum Speed Law, which limited all drivers to 55 miles per hour (89 km/h), so they could cover more distance in a given time than the law allowed.
Unfortunately for the song's hero, The White Knight is an undercover member of the Georgia State Patrol who has used the CB radio to broadcast misleading traffic information to truck drivers, hoping to lure them into a speed trap. Initially it doesn't work; the Super Trooper gets to 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) when a fellow driver warns him of a cop ahead, at which point he slows back down to the speed limit. The White Knight then goads the Super Trooper into flooring it; this time, the plan works, and the dismayed Super Trooper is pulled over for going "40 miles over the speed limit" (i.e., 95 miles per hour (153 km/h), although the singer only attests to going 92 miles per hour (148 km/h)). The main hero is left to exclaim "Bubblegum-machine done hit the jackpot" as he is being pulled over, taken to jail with eleven of the White Knight's other victims, and his truck confiscated.
The "White Knight" appears in a cameo in the follow-up single, "Kentucky Moonrunner." While the singer in "The White Knight" attempts to speed only when he believes no cops are present, the titular Kentucky Moonrunner simply outruns them with superior speed, recorded at over 150 miles per hour. The White Knight catches the Kentucky Moonrunner when he crosses into Georgia from Tennessee, with no explanation of how he could do so when the Tennessee cops could not.
"The White Knight" reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in February 1976, and was a modest pop hit, peaking at number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was Maggard's only nationwide release to reach the Top 40 on either chart.
The song was one of four number one country songs in which the CB radio is central to the plot to top the Hot Country Singles chart during 1976. The other three songs were:
- "Convoy" by C.W. McCall; four of its six weeks atop the chart were in January.
- "One Piece At A Time" by Johnny Cash; reaching number one for two weeks in May and June.
- "Teddy Bear" by Red Sovine, peaking in July.
It is also the second top-40 pop hit of the 1970s to mention the Georgia State Patrol; Vicki Lawrence mentioned the Patrol in her hit "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia." In both songs, the patrolman arrests the protagonist of the song.
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||19|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||8|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||50|
- Roland, Tom, "The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits" (Billboard Books, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1991 (ISBN 0-82-307553-2)), p. 161
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 212.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 390.
- In the UK BBC Radio One dj's Dave Lee Travis and Paul Burnett covered the song with an altered UK applying song text, under the moniker name Laurie Lingo & the Dipsticks in 1976.
by Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner
|Billboard Hot Country Singles
February 14, 1976
"Good Hearted Woman"
by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson