All of us at Epiphone send our condolences to the family of entertainer par excellence Roy Clark, who passed away on November 15 at age 85. For 24 years, Clark and co-host Buck Owens were the face of Hee Haw, the hour-long music variety show originally developed in 1969 as a rural alternative to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. But Hee Haw quickly developed its own unique personality that reflected the close family atmosphere of the Nashville music scene as well as Clark's own democratic view of American music.
Hey Haw brought the sounds and comedy of Nashville into countless homes around the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s and thanks to syndication, a world wide audience quickly took to Clark's incredibly inventive picking--a heady mix of jazz, barrel house blues, boogie woogie, and the first generation of whiz-kid country pickers like Hank Garland and Chet Atkins. Clark was an expert entertainer who made pickin' and grinnin' seem easy--and not a bad way to make a living. Clark was also an expert fiddle, mandolin, and banjo player. But it was his speedy guitar chops that made musicians of all styles take notice. His hits included the epic ballad "Yesterday When I Was Young" as well as now-trademark instrumentals of "Malaguena," "Tips of My Fingers," and "Ghost Riders in the Sky."
Roy Clark was born April 14, 1933 in Meherrin, Virginia, began playing guitar in his teens, and quickly joined his father’s square dance band. By the late 1940s, Clark was touring with Grand Ole Opry pioneer Grandpa Jones as wel as haunted honky tonk star Hank Williams. After a short stint in Washington D.C. on Jimmy Dean’s Country Style tv show and Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, Clark moved west, joining Wanda Jackson’s band Party Timers. Clark's feature spot in Jackson's band led to his first record deal with Capitol and his debut LP, The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark. Despite a strong following in the country music community, Clark's breakthrough in the business really came as a host of Hee Haw, where he also drew the admiration of a new generation of rock and rollers.
Roy was a lifelong fan of Gibson Brand instruments and featured a number of archtops on his album covers. Later in his life, Clark was also frequently seen on stage with an Epiphone Casino. Put some Roy Clark in your life today as your pick and grin your way through. Thanks for the music, Roy!