For seven decades, Roy Clark made use of his musical gift and entertaining personality to bring country music into millions of homes all over the world. Roy Clark songs introduced listeners to the genre’s gift, beauty, and humor.
While he is perhaps best known as co-host of the long-running Hee Haw TV series, there is so much more you need to know about the man who has helped popularize country music. Check out these facts about Roy Clark.
1. He’s a native of Meherrin, Virginia.
Born on April 15, 1933, Clark was the eldest of five children. He spent his childhood in Staten Island, New York, and his teenage years in Washington D.C. – where his father progressed from being a cotton picker to becoming a computer programmer.
2. He grew up in a musical family.
Clark’s father was a competent musician who played guitar, banjo, and fiddle, while his mother played the piano. By the time he was fourteen, his father would tag him along to play guitar at local dances.
3. He won the prestigious banjo competition at the National Country Music Championships.
Clark was only fifteen when he won National Banjo Championships, which led to his guest appearance at Grand Ole Opry two years later.
4. He also pursued a sports career as a baseball player and a boxer.
However, with his ever-growing reputation as a versatile musician, Clark dedicated himself solely to his music.
5. He was fired for his habitual tardiness.
In 1954, Clark joined Jimmy Dean‘s band despite being a successful bandleader on his own. However, Dean, who valued punctuality, fired Clark – who’s regularly late to the gigs. “You’re the most talented person I’ve ever fired,” Dean said to Clark.
6. He has been married twice.
Clark married his first wife when he was only seventeen – however, the marriage ended in divorce. In 1957, Clark married Barbara Joyce Rupard, whom he credited for his success in music. Clark revealed in an interview how Barbara would drive him from one gig to another during the early stages of his career. “We were on the road for 347 days that first year,” he said. The two had five children and made their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
7. He’s one of the most recognizable TV personalities in country music.
Clark first appeared on the CBS television sitcom Beverly Hillbillies. However, most people know him as the face of the variety show Hee-Haw alongside Buck Owens. For decades, Clark helped the show not only be a ratings-grabber but as well as an instant sensation among its viewers.
8. He is the first country artist to tour the Soviet Union.
In 1976, Clark played to jam-packed houses during his tour in Riga, Moscow, and Leningrad, which took twenty-one days.
Truly, Roy Clark is one of country music’s most beloved entertainers.