“The Consummate Entertainer”

“The Consummate Entertainer”

Abby Turpin and Roy Clark Abby Turpin and Roy Clark

At 82 years old, Roy Clark is still charming audiences around the world. While most of our viewers recognize Clark from his years on “Hee Haw,” musicians around the world recognize him as one of the greatest guitar pickers of all time. I sat down with Clark during his recent visit to nashville, as he reflects on his storied career in the entertainment business.

“One of the masters.” “The best of all time.” “The consummate entertainer.”

All terms that have been used to describe legend and extraordinaire, Roy Clark, who became a household name when ‘Hee Haw’ entered the homes of 30 million viewers weekly, from 1969 to 1992.

“Television was what I was really bred to do. I was a guest on the Jonathan Winters show and, during a break, these 2 gentlemen came back and said they were thinking about doing a television show with country music and country humor. In about January, my manager called and said ‘they’re ready to do that show. They're calling it Hee Haw. I’m sure that’s just a working title. Once it gets on the air, they’ll come up with something clever.’ You look back on it - what could be more clever than Hee Haw?”

During his time on the show, Clark was a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.

“That’s one of the highest seats in show business. When you follow Johnny Carson, he’s a giant - always will be. He is ‘The Tonight Show'.”

His fans also recall Clark’s appearances on “The Beverly Hillbillies”, the “Jackie Gleason Show," and this appearance on an episode of “The Odd Couple.”

But say the name “Roy Clark” to any musician, and his mastering of the guitar - and numerous instruments for that matter - will be what they know Clark for.

Clark was born on April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Virginia. He grew up in Staten Island, New York and spent his teen years in Washington D.C. It was in these years that he began playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. By just the age of 15, he had won two National Banjo Championships. By 17, he had made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, which would become a home away from home for him throughout his career.

“All of a sudden, I’m around my heroes - Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Grandpa Jones. The Grand Ole Opry is still it. They can build monuments all over the world... it’s still the Grand Ole Opry.”

Through the years, Clark also had hit songs as a pop vocalist with the songs “Yesterday, When I Was Young” and “Thank God and Greyhound.”

Clark became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1987, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. His long list of awards include ACM and CMA “Entertainer Of The Year” and a Grammy Award in 1982 for Best Country Instrumental Performance for his recording of “Alabama Jubilee.”

Musician, singer, comedian, actor, pilot, drag racer, baseball player, boxer, husband, father, grandfather - Roy Clark has done it all. But the most impressive thing when you sit down and talk with Roy Clark about his storied career- is his sense of honest humility, and genuine appreciation for a career well-earned.

“I have never been on a stage, wishing I was somewhere else. I’ve had people come up through the years and say ‘Why are you here tonight? Why are you in this little bitty town?’ I said, ‘Son, tonight, this little bitty town is the most important part of this universe.”

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