Roy Clark, the genial multi-instrumentalist and longtime host of TV's Hee Haw, tells the story of his rags-to-riches climb to stardom. Born in a small Virginia town, Clark grew up in Washington, D.C. His father, a laborer who moonlighted as a semi-pro guitarist, encouraged young Roy's playing and brought him along to weekend square dances as soon as he'd learned a few chords. Soon the boy was playing guitar several nights a week, and his school work suffered accordingly; eventually he dropped out to become a full-time musician. The next few years were a string of appearances with bands playing a variety of musical styles at bars, at dances, and on local radio and TV. Not quite confident of his own ability as a guitarist, Clark added a line of comic patter to his act as a way to cover up his feeling of inadequacy. His craftsmanship, versatility, and ability to make an audience laugh earned him sideman spots with better-known country stars like Jimmy Dean and Wanda Jackson. Finally, all the scuffling paid off in hit records (notably ``Yesterday When I Was Young), Tonight Show appearances, a star spot on Hee Haw, and getting his own theater in Branson, Missouri. Clark's story is heartening, if a bit humdrum—the performer comes across as salt of the earth, a man one would welcome as a neighbor, the farthest thing imaginable from headline material. For juicy gossip and inside dirt, one can look elsewhere. A reader is left feeling that one of the good guys has found success, but with little insight into what, beyond talent and hard work, might have raised him to the top. (B&w photos—32 pages—not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)