Remembering Roy

Written by Don Reid on November 15th, 2018 Posted in General


Here I am again, feeling like the Ancient Eulogizer, offering story and praise over those of my peers and friends who have gone on before me. But when I hear of the passing of one of those giants I had the pleasure of knowing and admiring and actually liking, I can’t help myself.

Roy Clark left us today and left the world a funnier and better place than he found it. Roy is the reason I carry two pair of cuff links when I travel and he’s the reason I never seriously considered hair transplants. For a long time after he got his, he wore that little cap/beret and lifted it one day to show me how it looked underneath. It looked painful and I decided right then that wasn’t for me. When Harold and I wrote the Statler hit, “How To Be A Country Star”, we got Roy’s permission for the line “get a cap like Roy Clark wore” before we ever sang it. He loved it and laughed bigger than anyone else. (Come to think of it, I never remember him not laughing. His mood was always reflected on his face in a huge and constant smile.)

Like us, Roy was from Virginia. His hometown is about fifty miles from our hometown. We worked some road dates together in the early years. I always loved the Hank Cochran song that was a hit for Roy, “Sally Was A Good Ole Girl”. The opening line was:

            Sally used to carry my books to school, Sally was a good ole girl

He would look at us standing on the side of the stage watching his show from the wings and every night he would roll his eyes and smile big and sing:

Sally used to carry my friends to school, Sally was a big ole girl

He started out in the business as Jimmy Dean’s lead guitar picker. I asked him one time if that old show business story was true that Jimmy fired him on the spot for being late for a show. He said, “Absolutely true. Every word of it!”  Then I asked Dean the same thing years later and he said, “Absolutely true. Every word of it?” But they loved each other and laughed about it for the rest of their lives.

Oh, yeah, the cuff links. We were all on a live tv awards show, the CMAs best I recall, a big cast where all of Nashville is on the guest list. About three minutes before air time, Roy came busting into our dressing room and said, “Do any of you have an extra pair of cuff links. I forgot to pack mine.” We all four dug through our shaving kits and cases and I came up with a pair for him to wear. From that day on I always carried two pair, one silver – one gold – just in case because it is so easy to forget cuff links. (Of course, today most people don’t even know what they are.)

We did Hee Haw with him so many times. He guested on a tv special of ours in the 70s. His talent had no bounds. He could pick “Malaguena” more dramatically and faster than anyone I’ve ever heard. He could do comedy; sing; pick; act. And he was a loveable man and a kind gentleman in doing it all. His kind of flair is unheard of in today’s entertainment world. We will miss our friend Roy. He was one of the good guys.


11/15/18    –Don Reid