Oklahoma musicians share memories of "Hee Haw" at opening of Oklahoma History Center exhibit "Pickin' and Grinnin'"
From Tuesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. This story goes with an interview of Roy Clark about his “Hee Haw” memories; to read that story, click here.
Oklahoma musicians remember “Hee Haw”
Jody Miller, Byron Berline recall performing on the long-running show, the subject of a new exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center.
The long-running country variety show “Hee Haw” may have been filmed in Nashville, Tenn., but in many ways, the heart and soul of the series has always belonged to Oklahoma.
Co-host Roy Clark, the genial multi-instrumentalist who has lived in Tulsa for 40 years, was “the heart and soul of ‘Hee Haw,’” but the show’s Oklahoma ties certainly don’t end there, said Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn.
“The Oklahoma connection is there from day one,” Blackburn said. “It’s really as much of an Oklahoma story as much as it is a Nashville story.”
“Hee Haw” creators Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth and producer Sam Lovullo found a perfect co-host and straight man for Clark in Buck Owens, whose nationally syndicated program was shot at Oklahoma City’s WKY-TV. The singer/guitarist continued “pickin’” on “Hee Haw” until 1986, while Clark kept up the “grinnin’” until the show ended in 1993.
From 1981 to ‘93, the show was kept on the air by broadcasting companies associated with The Oklahoma Publishing Co., which publishes The Oklahoman.
In addition, more than 40 performers with Oklahoma connections appeared on the show, many of them clients of legendary Tulsa-based agent Jim Halsey. Comedic actor Gailard Sartain and fiddler Jana Jae, who both have Tulsa ties, became “Hee Haw” regulars. Oklahoma-born baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench were among the famous folks who popped out of the cornfield to tell appropriately corny jokes, while evangelist Oral Roberts did a scene in Archie Campbell’s barbershop.
And a veritable constellation of the state’s music stars played the show, including Roger Miller, Patti Page, Sheb Wooley, Wanda Jackson, Jean Shepard, Mel McDaniel, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn and Garth Brooks.
“When people talk about country music … they come back to ‘Hee Haw,’ and it’s got all kind of roots in Oklahoma,” said Larry O’Dell, director of collections at the Oklahoma History Center.
The Oklahoma History Center is saluting the show and showcasing its state ties in the new exhibit “Pickin’ and Grinnin’: Roy Clark, ‘Hee Haw’ & Country Humor.” Grammy-winning singer Jody
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