Roy Clark is a familiar face even to folks who are not country music fans.
He is a great instrumentalist and very funny and engaging entertainer who gained fame as the host of the 1970s television program Hee Haw. It’s interesting and a bit funny that Clark, who was born in 1933, grew up on Staten Island, NY and lived in Washington, DC. Neither is a hotbed of country music. The young Clark was a boxer. He won 15 of 17 fights before opting for music.
The biographies give Clark much credit for popularizing country music. In addition to Hee Haw — he co-hosted with Buck Owens — Clark was a frequent guest and guest host on Johnny Carson’s on The Tonight Show and appeared in sitcoms and movies. That was as much to do with his easy-going style as his musical talents.
He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and is in the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition to guitar, Clark plays banjo – he won two national banjo championships — and violin. He still is performing.
The profiles tell the story of Clark’s rise to stardom. High points include his work as a regular on Jimmy Dean’s television show in Washington and, in 1960, his decision to move west and to lead Wanda Jackson’s band. Another highlight, according to the AllMusic profile, was a tour of the Soviet Union that sold out 18 concerts.
Above is “Alabama Jubilee” and below is “Under the Double Eagle.”