HEE HAW 1980-1989

David leading the cast in an old-time song

Playing the paper bag with Roy Acuff

Twice a year Hee Haw would tape segments of the show for a week at the complex in Opryland. When the crew wasn’t taping we had plenty of time to hang out with each other, visit, tell jokes and play a little music. It was like a large extended family. Everybody was great to me but my best pals were Roy Acuff and Grandpa Jones as well as Tennessee Ernie Ford.

I taught Roy Acuff to play the paper bag, and he showed me the first hambone rhythm he learned in his youth. We put our two rhythms together and created a much requested segment.

At a Hee Haw taping producers were taking a long time to get taping going and were having all kinds of problems. Pa got a broom and started sweeping. They said, “What are you doing Grandpa?”

Pa said, “Sweeping me off a place to pitch a fit.”

Another time we were taping Hee Haw and the director Bob Boatman kept asking Grandpa if he could make his song a little shorter. It seems the producers wanted to cut down the old time traditional tunes and give more time to the modern country songs. This had happened to Pa many times before and he was irritated by it, so he just walked up to the mike and hit one loud, crashing chord and said, “Is that short enough?”

Getting to spend time with Tennessee Ernie Ford was a thrill for me. When I was a young kid growing up in Texas my mother and father had just a few records. I only remember two…the Tennessee Waltz by Jo Stafford and Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I must have listened to those songs a thousand times. When Ernie Ford had his TV show I never missed it. Even as a kid I knew there was something special about that song and its singer so having a chance to get to know him was completing a very important circle for me.

Tennessee Ernie Ford and David Holt