Roy Clark. Hero, Friend, and Brother.

Roy Clark.  Hero, Friend, and Brother.  I admired Roy Clark as a musician, entertainer, and a friend.  He was funny, nice, complimentary,  appreciative of his fans, generous, cool and had a charming personality.  The last time I got to visit Roy, he spent 2-3 hours with me. It was tremendous for me, but I think it was really good for him as well, as he talked about things that meant a lot to him earlier in his life. For instance,  he talked a lot about Grandpa Jones.  We both shared the experience of having been Grandpa’s backup guitar player.  In fact, Roy told me that it was his first good job.  We both shared Grandpa stories and were both cracking up because he was such a funny character.  Of course you’d see Grandpa on Hee Haw with Roy, but one may not understand the respect and love Roy had for him personally.  Grandpa was a mentor to him.

Uncle Doyle (“Smitty Smith”)

Roy also talked about my uncle Doyle aka “Smitty” Smith.  It was very similar to what Grandpa Jones wrote about him in his book. Roy told me that he would have never been on HEE HAW and would have never been able to do a monologue and host The Tonight Show for Johnny Carson had it not been for Uncle Doyle or “Smitty.”  My Uncle was also a great mentor to him as far as storytelling and comedy just as Grandpa said he was to him.  I still have a letter that Uncle Doyle sent us after receiving a phone call from Roy Clark when he was in Hollywood to do the Beverly Hillbillies show, and he told us to watch out and not miss that show.  I have always felt like I knew him somehow.  Uncle Doyle was also very proud of Roy.  For this reason, I always felt like I knew Roy in a different way because of the relationship he had with our family (my Mother’s brother) and also with Grandpa, who I was close to.
There is a segment in my book, “The Lights of Marfa,” about giving Roy my Uncle’s guitar. Someone told me once that they heard an interview on television and they asked Roy what was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him, and he told the story of a young man who met him after one of his shows and thought someone was trying to sell him a guitar, and when he saw the case he knew exactly what that guitar was and how he gave it to him.  It was a 1939 Martin D-45.  Roy actually borrowed it from my Uncle when he played Madison Square Garden.  The reason I’m telling you this is because of the blessings that it returned to my own life.  This is a sowing and reaping thing. (Galatians 6:7)
My side of the story:  I was pastoring a small church in Jacksonville, Florida, and I felt I should be playing my guitar and traveling again, but I wanted to leave the church debt-free.  I knew Glenn Reeves, former entertainer and the promoter for the Jacksonville Fair, and he said he’d get me backstage to meet Roy.  (Mr. Reeves formerly managed The Wheeling Jamboree in WV and had offered me a job as staff lead guitarist back when I was with Grandpa Jones, but I turned it down to stay with Grandpa.) When Roy saw the guitar, he immediately said “I know that guitar!  I knew its owner well and thought the world of him. Why are you doing this?”  At that time we had a program for missions at my church I called “Music for Missions,” and people donated instruments to give to less fortunate people around the world, and I told Roy about that and told him that maybe this time the good Lord wanted someone who was even fortunate and famous to know that He loved him and wanted him to know it.
Things immediately happened after that, and I left my church debt-free to go back on the road. Things began to happen for me in the music business, especially the musical instruments industry, and since then I have had signature guitars with three major companies and quite honestly would never have had to buy another guitar the rest of my life.  All of that started after I saw Roy in Jacksonville, so I feel he has been a part of my career for a long time.
It’s amazing how many times we tried to work it out to meet Roy when I was with Grandpa back in the 70s.  Even Shot Jackson tried to work it out for me to meet Roy and it never happened.  Shot was also in the Roy Clark Family Band on HEE HAW.  Once when I was with Grandpa, we did a Fair date with Roy but there were so many people around him, I never had the chance to talk with him and was also very shy so It never worked out. It’s all about God‘s timing and His direction.  I do know that Roy re-dedicated his heart to God, and even though I don’t know exactly when, I do know that Kenneth Hagin was his Pastor, so it had to be around that same time.  I believe God was dealing with him at the time I gave him that old Martin.  Timing is everything.
After this I went to see Roy twice. Once he was playing a show in Oklahoma City, and he asked me to get up and play.  I played the Patriotic Medley on his personal electric guitar.  The next time was the private meeting at his office and he had lunch catered in and spent 2-3 hours with me.  We talked a lot about Grandpa Jones and shared stories, and then he told me things about he and Uncle Doyle that I never knew.  I never got to see Roy Clark again even though I tried to work things around to do that.
Ricky Skaggs told me this week that he had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with Roy this past Summer and how much he enjoyed it.  Whether or not you got to spend time with him or just saw him on television, you felt that you knew Roy Clark.  If you were so fortunate to have met Roy and spent time with him, you would not have been disappointed at all.  “Roy, We’ll be seeing you again!”
The man at the far right is Jimmy Dean… the sausage King… and at the time was a huge country star with his own TV show. All of this started in the Washington D.C. area, which at that time was probably as big or bigger than Nashville, as far as country shows were concerned. Of course, that all changed. On the far left is Roy Clark.