Roy Clark, who died Thursday at 85, may have been one of country music’s most revered musicians, but he found broad fame as the co-host of Hee Haw, opposite Buck Owens. The country variety series also served as a showcase for Clark’s playing though, especially its “Pickin’ and Grinnin'” segment.
The bit often featured one of the show’s musical guest stars, who, for the most part, tried to keep up with Clark, whose prowess on guitar, banjo and other instruments could certainly prove intimidating.
In the above “Pickin’ and Grinnin'” segment from 1973, “East Bound and Down” singer, songwriter, actor and guitarist Jerry Reed, flanked by Clark on banjo and Owens on guitar, participates in groan-inducing jokes about not being interested in joining Clark at a lecture on sex appeal (since he “already gave”) and one about being caught in the ladies’ room at the recently opened Opryland USA theme park. That’s where Hee Haw would be taped for the remainder of its run, having moved there from the studios of WLAC (now WTVF), Nashville’s Channel 5, when the series aired on the CBS network from 1969 to 1971.
In addition to Hee Haw, Clark made other TV appearances during the late Sixties and early Seventies, including as “Cousin Roy” on the Beverly Hillbillies. He also guested on a 1971 episode of the ABC sitcom The Odd Couple, where fussy Felix (Tony Randall) wants to hear some Bach and the disheveled Oscar (Jack Klugman) prefers the more down-home “Mountain Dew.”
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Clark, who could have executed either with equal aplomb, performs one of the musical numbers for which he would become well-known: a hypnotic and intense version of “Malagueña,” composed by Cuban pianist Ernesto Lecuona and first popularized on flamenco guitar by Spanish musician Carlos Montoya. It became a signature showpiece for Clark throughout the remainder of his life and demonstrates why he is — and will long be considered — one of the most gifted instrumentalists of his generation.