Roy Clark 1933-2018

Hi, everybody! Jewish Steel here. How’ve you been?

By a strange coincidence I was just watching this the other day. I was expecting some virtuoso hillbilly guitar. What I was not expecting was Steve Martinesque anti-comedy. Where there aren’t jokes necessarily, but the humor is in the stupidity, surprising turns, and flashes of insight contained in the material itself. I was kind of shocked at the sophistication of it all.


63 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    I have found out today that mine wasn’t the only Black family that watched Hee Haw.

    RIP, Mr. Clark.

  2. 2
    Geeno says:

    Roy was a big league entertainer.
    I like your likening him to Steve Martin that’s a really good comparison.

  3. 3

    If anybody’s got a copy of Roy’s “Christmas Memories” (2000) on their playlist, listen for the saxophonist. That’s my cousin Charles.

  4. 4
    satby says:

    I never realized he was funny. That was pretty good 😉. So’s this.
    RIP Mr. Clark, at the end of a long and I hope happy, life!

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    raven says:

    @PaulWartenberg: Oh that is great! I he still with us?

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    unknown known says:

    So what happens at 2:10 when he takes his hand off the guitar, but the music keeps pickin’ along. He doesn’t have a loop peddle there. Was he string-syncing?

  8. 8
    dr. bloor says:

    Hee Haw was a staple in our house when I was a kid. Aside from the fact that Clark was the One With The Chops, every now and again he and Owens would mess with the fourth wall a bit–not break it down, but maybe peek over the top for a second or two.

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    raven says:

    @dr. bloor: Grampa Jones could play!

  10. 10
    trollhattan says:

    How cool is that?

    r.i.p. Roy, your skill and showmanship helped open a genre I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed.

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    dr. bloor says:

    @raven: True enough–thought of him right after that posted that. I think I was enamored with Clark’s flashy stuff, though.

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    @unknown known: Sounds like there’s a bass player and drummer offscreen.

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    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    May your pleasures be many your troubles be few. He and Buck Owen’s is picking’ and grinnin’ again.

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    Mary G says:

    @raven: Roy’s sideburns on that are YUGE.

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    Derelict says:

    By equally odd coincidence, I happened to crank up the Roy Clark channel on a friend’s Pandora account just two days ago.
    The world will miss you, Roy!

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    unknown known says:

    @John Revolta: Ahhh. That would make total sense.

  18. 18
    Schlemazel says:

    That was all I knew him for, sort of pigeonholed with Homer & Jethro, it was later I found out the guy had a musical gift also.
    It is music like that that makes me wish I could believe.

  19. 19
    Flanders Other Neighbor says:

    Clark was fantastic. Check out The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark, his first album.

  20. 20
    oatler. says:

    Somebody post That Odd Couple Clip!

  21. 21
    justawriter says:

    Grew up on Hee Haw. Come to think of it, I grew up in Hee Haw too (northern snowbound edition).

  22. 22
    ThresherK says:

    I did not know he was still alive or that he passed.

    I remember Buck Owens’ passing and there was a worthy successor in Dwight Yoakam. Does there exist someone to carry Clark’s style?

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    Yutsano says:

    Is it bad I thought he passed away around the same time Minnie Pearl died? But yeah thanks for all the laughs Roy.

  24. 24
    a thousand flouncing lurkers (was fidelio) says:

    Clark and Owens got the HeeHaw gig because they were personable and reliable and would show up sober–not because they were well-known or because of their talents as musicians or writers. The suits didn’t care much about that part.
    They took the opportunity and ran with it, and who could blame them?

    And you’re quite correct that there’s more wit and sophistication involved in that show than you’d expect, if you weren’t familiar with both the performers and their main target audience.

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    Patricia Kayden says:

    @rikyrah: My Jamaican family loved Hee Haw, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, etc. Good music is good music, regardless of genre. We even used to watch Lawrence Welk reruns. Good times.

    R.I.P. Roy.

  27. 27
    Steeplejack says:

    @unknown known:

    Yes, bass player and drummer off camera. Clark starts playing again at about 2:33; you can hear the much “chunkier” sound of his guitar over the bass.

    It’s weird—I was just thinking about Roy Clark the other day, wondering what had happened to him. A phenomenal guitarist (and banjo player) sometimes underrated because of his comic turns.

    Here he is with another great guitarist, Glen Campbell, doing “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

  28. 28
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I am watching “Naked Attraction” on tv. I cannot fathom in my life that I would ever see a show like this on my TV. I am gobsmacked. In fact my gob has never been so smacked.

  29. 29
    Baud says:

    I also watched Hee Haw. Can’t help but wonder if we’d be in a better place with rural America if it was never cancelled.

  30. 30
    Schlemazel says:

    I watched a youtube documentary on the making of Hee-Haw a couple weeks ago. the most interesting bits were how certain people came to the show. The producer brought Buck Owens to be the musical talent and Clark as the comic talent. But it was surprising how many of the ‘comics’ had musical chops. Grandpa Jones was mentioned above. The show was probably filmed 10 years ago or so & you could see the age when they interviewed Clark but it was nice to see him rolling along still cracking jokes

  31. 31
    Schlemazel says:

    That style of C&W music died a long time ago. I am not sure the modern variation would play as well with the blackouts & one liner fillers. Plus I am pretty sure it could not overcome the tsunami of hate spewed from every rural radio station

  32. 32
    eclare says:

    Oh yeah, must see teevee when I was growing up. Dad was also a big Tennessee Ernie Ford fan.

    Sixteen tons.

  33. 33
    Raven says:

    And, of course, the beautiful Marianne Rogers, is an Athens girl!

  34. 34
    The Pale Scot says:

    Roy Clark regals Felix Unger playing Malaguena

    Roy’s other scenes in the show,

  35. 35


    My cousin? Yes. He’s teaching music at a Virginia college

  36. 36
    cleek says:

    Junior Brown does that country virtuoso + goofy humor thing, but Brown is of a later generation than Clark, so he’s a bit louder and tends to throw a lot more blues and surf into his style.

  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:


    On my last trip to Las Vegas my mother told me that Tennessee Ernie Ford kissed her once! Whut?

    I don’t know how the topic came up—maybe just random memories and anecdotes—but she said that one time (must have been in the ’60s or ’70s, I think) she and my father went to a party at an Air Force general’s house, and the general said he wanted to introduce her to someone because he knew she was a Tennessee girl. Turned out to be Ford, who had been the general’s bombardier on a B-29 in World War II. (The general wasn’t a general then, of course.) Ford was happy to meet a fellow Tennesseean and grab a smooch.

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    ThresherK says:

    @cleek: I will look his work up. Thanx.

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    zhena gogolia says:



  42. 42
    zhena gogolia says:


    When we watched the “I’ll Fly Away” clip that raven posted, my husband said, “Tennessee Ernie Ford was handsome!” I said, “Yeah, isn’t that funny? When we were kids he just seemed like some old dude, but he was really hot!

  43. 43
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    He came from the same area my mother did, Meherrin, VA. My mom was about 9 years older than Roy. She remembers him as a child playing — His uncles were the mainstays at the local volunteer fire department for dancing and fun. So when Roy made it big in Hee Haw, we had to watch it. He was great — the culture signaling that grew around the show put me off (my grandparents who lived in Meherrin until their dying day were contemptuous of my father, me and my brother because we were big city people from Richmond. The rural vs. urban divide is old, old, old), but listening to him gave me an appreciation for old-time country music played with flair. RIP Mr. Clark and condolences to your family and friends.

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    zhena gogolia says:

    I missed a chance to hear Clark play at the American Embassy in Moscow. I had the flu to end all flus, plus I had no idea this would be a treat.

  45. 45
    geg6 says:

    I despise country music, but I can appreciate Roy Clark’s guitar and banjo skills. My late oldest brother, Billy, was a really good guitar player (he could have made a living at it if his mental illness hadn’t crippled his ability to function in society) and he was a huge Roy Clark fan. The only reason Hee Haw was ever allowed in our house when I was growing up (my parents had the same opinion of country music as I do) was because Billy had to see Roy Clark. RIP, Roy. If there is an afterlife, I hope you can play a song or two with my big brother.

  46. 46
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck.

  47. 47
    tomtofa says:

    On a reunion show, Roy talked about getting the Hee Haw gig as a result of his work on the Jonathon Winters show. I see Winters in him, along with Martin.

    Here’s another fun duet

  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: U ok der OH?

  49. 49
    Michael Cain says:

    @Steeplejack: Most people forget that Glenn Campbell started in LA as a sought-after session musician, part of the Wrecking Crew. Album recording credits for groups that ranged from the Beach Boys to Elvis to Sinatra.

  50. 50
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    My folks were hillbilly refugees – left The Sticks in 1940 for a factory job & a row house in the Baltimore suburbs & never looked back – but every weekday afternoon they made sure to be in front of the TV when the Hee Haw reruns came on.

    For myself, I will never forget Junior Samples’ immortal foray into higher mathematics:

    Pi r square??
    Pie are round!.
    Corn pone are square!!

    As much fun as that cast seemed to be having showing off their hick chops, you could tell that there was a lot more to them than that. A whole lot more in Roy Clark’s case.

    For all that enjoyment you brought to my folks, Mr Roy, may you RIP.

  51. 51
    Geoduck says:

    One of my favorite Clark pieces is this bit of humor.

  52. 52
    khead says:

    I thought about a “pickin and grinnin” joke – because yeah I grew up with Hee Haw too – but I just decided to say Roy was very underrated. The dude hosted The Tonight Show. Buck got a lot of pub late in his life because of Dwight, but Roy probably influenced more folks with his skillz.

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    His humor is what I always loved about him.

  55. 55
    Mike in DC says:

    Yeah, I think guitarists and anyone who followed closely knew how talented Roy Clark was. And he was funny and personable too. RIP.

  56. 56
    mad citizen says:

    I think my first concert was parents taking us to see Hee Haw live at Fort Wayne Allen Co War Memorial Coliseum. Clark was really talented, at least from a kid’s memory from 45 years ago.

  57. 57
    Quinerly says:

    What a fabulous thread! I’m so very late to it but thanks for all the comments. I just clicked on and watched and listened to all the links. I grew up on Hee Haw (and The Dean Martin Show and Lawrence Welk). My father couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket but this thread brought back some great memories. He loved this music. Only thing I can add is a gentleman from the neck of the woods where I grew up in in NC and an acquaintance of my father’s wrote “Orange Blossom Special.” As a child, it was a big deal to me to ride out to the area where the Rouse farm was. My dad would point and say, “The Orange Blossom Special” guy grew up there. Never met Mr. Rouse, but he seemed like a celebrity to a 4 year old girl riding around in a pick up truck with her dad. ♥️

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    brendancalling says:

    @Schlemazel: Homer and Jethro were amazingly accomplished musicians. The comedy is the focus, but they’re really good.

  59. 59
    Citizen Alan says:

    Ironically, just a few weeks ago, I introduced a friend of mine who is 26 years old and a self-described redneck good old boy from Bruce Mississippi, to Hee-Haw. He had never heard of it before, refused to believe in its existence when I described it to him, and after watching 10 minutes of one episode, staggered away in disbelief. It was quite amusing.

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    TomatoQueen says:

    An Orange Blossom Special for the modern age :

    RIP Mr Clark.

  62. 62
    cynthia ackerman says:

    I heard Roy got a kick out of this

  63. 63
    Bonnie says:

    And, don’t forget, he is the man who brought us:
    Jeremiah was a bullfrog
    Was a good friend of mine
    I never understood a single word he said
    But I helped him a-drink his wine
    And he always had some mighty fine wine
    Joy to the world
    All the boys and girls now
    Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
    Joy to you and me

    My personal favorite of Roy Clark was Yesterday When I Was Young.

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