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Roy Clark’s 71st birthday

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Roy Clark was born March 15, 1933. Happy 71st birthday, Roy!

He’s had a pretty good career, but really doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a musician. He was the king fish hot picker for the whole run of Hee Haw, which put him front and center as the most prominent picker in country music during the last generation of real country.

Anything with strings he can make sing- a guitar, a banjo, whatever. For one of your best examples of hardcore Roy Clark pickin’ get up on “Malaguena.”

Curiously, a lot of his biggest and best actual hit singles on country radio were ballad type material with no hotshot guitar, which was theoretically his strong suite. He didn’t even write most of them. Nonetheless, somebody wrote him some classic tunes.

“Yesterday When I Was Young” is a beautiful song of middle aged regret, haunting- probably his best song. “Right or Left at Oak Street” ain’t far behind.

“Thank God and Greyhound” rates pretty high as a song as well. You just can’t argue against that very articulate sigh of relief.

Also note his participation in the underappreciated Hee Haw Gospel Quartet with, among others, Grandpa Jones. There are a couple of albums of them floating around, and well worth a listen if you have any interest at all in country gospel.

Special shout out here for a really curious novelty song called “Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka.” He is essentially making a comical plea for a country music/Lawrence Welk polka alliance against the hippies. It’s a real hoot, and actually a very good piece of songcraft.

Here are a few especially outstanding highlights that you NEED to hear:

Yesterday When I Was Young
Thank God and Greyhound
Right or Left at Oak Street
The Tips of My Fingers
Malaguena [one especially hot Spanish guitar showcase] Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka
I Never Picked Cotton
Come Live with Me
Honeymoon Feeling
Turn Your Radio On [Hee Haw Gospel Quartet]

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  • Eric Olsen

    Exceptional musician and good singer – I’ve always liked Roy.

  • David

    Kind of a shame Hee Haw projected such a cheesy image. The music was always fantastic.

  • yep, roy’s a fantastic guitar player.

    there are a bunch of country-oriented people that never the respect they deserved due to ‘image’. roy’s in that list. so’s Glen Campbell.

  • oh…and another one is Buck Owens, who came up with some ultra-fine country music.

    the cool folks over at Sundazed Records started a reissue compaign of Buck’s music a while back. lottsa stuff there to check out.

  • Eric Olsen

    I have a great box set on Buck from Rhino, The Buck Owens Collection.

  • Yeah, the Buck box rocks. He was much more of a songwriter than Roy. Need more Buck Owens.

  • duane

    Roy could play, even if he wasn’t much of a songwriter. I saw him about 20 years ago at Knott’s Berry Farm (The John Wayne Theater). After fooling around for a few songs, making his goofy faces, telling a few jokes, he says, “Here’s my version of a song that drifted up from Mexico a while back. It’s called Malaguena.” He just poured it on. Holy shit! He did about a 10-minute version of this thing. There was one part where he was picking a string and whacking the guitar with the heel of his hand, playing the melody and the percussion at the same time. I think the audience was pretty much stunned. It was wonderful, and I’ve always respected him since then. “Where’s Slash?”, my ass.

  • duane

    Ooops. Poor referencing, again. I meant that Al had mentioned Malaguena in his post, not Eric.

  • duane

    Nevermind. Sheesh.

  • Marshall

    I need to send Roy an email regarding the Banjo Lessons book I have.
    Can you provide his email address?
    Thanks, Marshall

  • Bill Treakle

    I saw Roy Clark at Nashville North Taylorville Illinois.

    Great show, musicians and stage presence

  • Dean Solomon

    I am trying to find an e-mail address for Roy Clark. I am his cousin that hasn’t seen him since I was 6!

  • Nora Pike

    I am trying to find an email address for Roy Clark to notify him that an old friend, Pete Pike, has passed on to eternity. Any help would be appreciated. Pete and Roy started together here in Amelia, Va. Thank you in advance