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
Turn Your Radio On [Hee Haw Gospel Quartet]