Saddened to hear just now of the death of Roy Clark today at age 85. As I wrote here, I was a huge Hee Haw fan while growing up, and as co-host of the show he was always at the forefront of the doings, not just as a genius multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle) but a gifted sketch comedian, though his “Empty Arms Hotel” clerk character would strike the modern viewer as pretty homophobic, I fear.
I just remembered the “I’m a pickin'” “And I’m a-grinnin'” routine — I literally had not thought of those words in four decades. Despite irresistible hokum like that, Clark also had crossover appeal, and from time to time he would trot out his 1969 tune “Yesterday When I Was Young”, which went all the way to #19 on the pop charts. And folks are naturally sharing memories of his appearance on The Odd Couple, where he demonstrated not just acting chops but his ability to play in both country and classical musical styles. Folks didn’t put themselves in impregnable silos in those days. Clark was a real bridge-builder and an A-1 ambassador of country culture to the wider world. More like him, please, God!
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