Path Home Shows 2015 Show Archive October 2015 Show 1541 Roy Clark Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Roy Clark Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Roy Clark attributes his fame not only to his instrumental talents, but also to his people skills.
Roy Clark Pickin’ & Grinnin’

Roy Clark Pickin’ & Grinnin’

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Roy Clark

Northeast Technology Center - Roy Clark Music School

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Show Details

Show 1541: Roy Clark Pickin’ & Grinnin’
Air Date: October 11, 2015



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Roy Clark may be best known for his work on the “Hee Haw” television show, but this long time Oklahoman is in fact a virtuoso with anything with strings and just as funny as you remember him. I was able to sit down with Clark in his Tulsa office to talk about his career and his love of music.

Rob McClendon: From his earliest days, Roy Clark knew the value of a smile.

Roy Clark: When I first noticed that people could laugh at different things I did and said, I was in grade school.

Rob: A country boy living in our nation’s capital, Roy and his dad spent many an evening playing local clubs.

Roy Clark: Every street corner had a club or something that had maybe two pieces of music. And the audience was there, because D.C. always had military bases and all these young people. They also had the young girls right out of high school working for the government, so every night was a Saturday night.

Rob: And Clark began to hone his musical talent.

Clark: Television and I was given birth about the same year. I did my first television show in 1947.

TV Show Announcer: He’s a sensational one-man show. So let’s put the lightning fingers of Roy Clark to work.


Rob: And with that laugh and sly smile, Clark’s music became laced with humor.

Clark: If you played guitar like I do, you have to have comedy.

Rob: And Roy Clark became a staple on early television.


Rob: Known for his charm as well as his music, a TV presence that CBS noticed when looking for a summer replacement for the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”

Smothers Brothers: Sounds like some kind of nut—some ding-man going around talking to the trees. Hi there tree—just dropped by to talk to ya for a minute, you know I’m shy.

Sam Lovullo: We made a decision that maybe we ought to entertain a show that would be with music and quick-cut, one-liners like “Laugh-In.”

[Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.]

Rob: With more of a small town feel, and in the summer of ’69 “Hee-Haw” hit the air waves.


“Hee Haw” Announcer: Welcome to “Hee Haw,” starring Buck Owens and Roy Clark.


Lovullo: Roy could play comedy and sing. He was the first person that we went after when the creation of “Hee Haw” got started. Buck really made a contribution to “Hee Haw” because of his music and of course, his recording. He was a good setup man. So it worked. The combination of the two was just a beautiful relationship.

Clark: So that was the combination they wanted was Buck with his record sales and me with my jovial face.

Rob: And so began a 25-year run of a show often dismissed by critics, but loved by its 30 million weekly viewers.

[“Hee Haw” excerpt - Roy Clark: You know, they say he’s 94, never looked at a girl in his life, never smoked, took a drink or gambled. Junior Samples: Beats me why he wanted to live so long. Laughter].

Clark: When you did something you had to live with it. There was no stopping tape.

Rob: Oh, really.

Clark: We never rehearsed. Because then if they found out there was a stop button then we would be stopping all day long -- stopping the tape.

Rob: So what you saw was pretty much what they shot, bloopers and all.

[Clark: Junior, you know I do believe that, that Marvin Muffin Nuckles is the laziest one man that I personally have ever seen in my entire life. What do you think? Junior: I know it is, it is, and if he ever wakes up over twice a week he complains of in-snort-na-mun.]

Lovullo: It was down to a science, that I would get the guest artist first, get all their music out of the way. Then the next one in line would be Buck Owens, get his music out of the way. Then I would bring in everybody for comedy. Roy would be there now when we would do the comedy because the very first thing that when we did comedy was picking and grinning with Buck. And once we got through with picking and grinning, Buck would go home. And it would be comedy with Roy and with the rest of the people, and at the back end I would do Roy’s music. So that’s the way I would, you know, finish -- this style of this production.

Rob: So twice a year the entire crew would gather in Nashville to record enough shows for the season – giving Clark a chance to tour and audiences the opportunity to see that behind those comedic chops was an extraordinary musician.

[Roy Clark playing music]

Rob: Clark was at the height of his popularity, appearing on a variety of TV shows.

Clark: I didn’t know you were country, Donny.

Donny Osmond: Are you kidding? Listen to this. [sings out of key: In the deep purple pond, near the sleepy garden walls.] Good, huh?

Clark: Well, it does bring tears to your eyes.

Marie Osmond: Mine, too.

Rob: But it was as a guest star on “The Odd Couple” in 1971 that Clark’s picking outshone his grinning -- letting America see the musical talent behind that smile.


Rob: A talent that crossed cultures and transcended Cold War hostilities.

Rob: You played in the Soviet Union, truly at the height of the Cold War, when there were definite tensions between our two countries.

Clark: It seemed like the thing to do. Everybody was saying, “You can’t do it. It is impossible. There is too many things in the way.” But we had the Voice of America, and they opened up the airwaves to them, which they had been blocked. And so they were talking about us coming and made it really exciting. I couldn’t wait to see us coming.

Rob: So what was it like to play to this crowd? How did they react?

Clark: Just like a rock and roll audience. Oh, boy, they would get down and they would gyrate and do what they thought Elvis Presley did. And, oh, it was special.

Rob: A connection Clark makes with his audience and most everyone he meets.

Clark: Comedy will really soothe a lot of hard places in your life if you can laugh at it.

Rob: Will comedy improve a couple of missed notes here and there?

Clark: Oh, yeah. Yeah, when you, uh, somebody said, “What do you do if you make a mistake?” I said, “I laugh.” They said, “You’re always laughing.” I said, “I told ya.”

Rob: Now, Clark has called Tulsa, Oklahoma, home for going on 40 years, and while his touring schedule is a little bit lighter these days, you can still catch an occasional conversation with Roy Clark on stage. Now, when we return, we meet the man behind the music.