Roy Clark is truly the duke of country music, lending greatness to today’s artists and future generations to come. He was born in Virginia but raised in New York and then Washington, DC. It is where he learned to play guitar, banjo and mandolin.
By the age of 15 he had already won two National Banjo Championships and also a world guitar flat picking championship. To most he is considered one of the greatest guitarists in music history, not just to country music lovers, but also by the legendary guitarists in blues, rock, R&B and jazz.
Clark was a regular on Jimmy Dean’s television show in Washington, D.C. and when Dean was asked to host The Tonight Show in the early 1960s, he asked Clark to appear. It was the first time Clark was introduced to a national audience. From there he appeared on the Jackie Gleason Show where he performed his own version of “Down Home,” capturing the hearts of many Americans.
Clark is a man of many talents musically, but is also an aviator. That’s right, not everyone knows it, but Clark was a pilot. He got his pilot’s license in his early twenties and flew his own plane for many years. Clark has been the representative for multiple guitar companies as well, companies like Mosrite, Gretsch, and several other guitar brands during his career. He currently endorses Heritage Guitars, which makes a Clark model.
In 1969, Clark began hosting a new television show on CBS and two years later it became nationally syndicated and would last another nineteen years. There are few who haven’t heard of the show, Hee Haw, which was a variety show that featured corny jokes and highlighted fictional rural country settings. Clark and Buck Owens brought country music at its best into the homes of the American people every week.
Don’t be fooled though. Hee Haw’s appeal was not limited to a rural audience. It was successful in all of the major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1987 and in 2009, Clark was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Though Clark became a household name by hosting, “Hee Haw” with Owens back in the seventies, eighties and early nineties, he has accomplished so much more. He is a Grammy Award Winner, and has won the ACM and CMA entertainer of the year, CMA comedian of the year, and CMA Instrumentalist of the Year three years in a row. He has also appeared on numerous television shows including, The Beverly Hill Billies, The Muppet Show, The Odd Couple, just to name a few. His career has spanned over five decades…a feat only a few will ever match.
These days you can still find Clark in Oklahoma where he makes more time to fish, fly his airplanes and ride motorcycles these days, but he is still wowing audiences with a few appearances per year and and helping release new music on his own label, Roy Clark, Ltd.