Country Rewind: Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell & Roy Clark Pay Tribute to Hank Williams in 1978 Medley Performance

by Jim Casey
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Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, and Roy Clark paid tribute to Hank Williams by performing a medley of his hits during a 1978 TV special.

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so feel free to crack a cold one and hit play after we rewind this classic country performance.

Setting the Stage

It’s not often that you get three future Country Music Hall of Fame members on the same stage at the same time. But NBC managed to do just that when Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, and Roy Clark co-hosted a three-hour TV special to celebrate 50 years of country music in 1978.

Dolly, Glen, and Roy each hosted an hour of the show, which was filmed at the Grand Ole Opry House. Performers during the evening included Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Crystal Gayle, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and more.

Dolly, Glen, and Roy also joined vocal forces to perform a medley of hits from Hank Williams’ catalog. While his career was cut short when he died at the age of 29 in 1953, Hank helped usher country music into the modern era with a string of hits in the late 1940s and early 1950s. No one had a greater impact on country music in a shorter period of time. The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Hank as its first artist in 1961.

Dolly, Glen & Roy Honor Hank

Dressed to the nines, Dolly, Glen, and Roy gave a brief introduction before honoring Hank.

“You know, sitting on this stage at the Grand Ole Opry and looking back across 50 years of country music, one figure seems to loom taller than all the rest,” said Roy.

“Everyone owes a special debt to Hank Williams,” added Dolly. “His star burned brightly, but only for a brief time.”

“But he left behind a great legacy,” said Glen. “And the fruits of his genius is his fantastic music, like this.”

With that intro, the trio broke into a medley of Hank’s hits, including “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You,” “You Win Again,” “I Saw the Light,” and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou).”

One of the most interesting aspects of Dolly, Glen, and Roy’s tribute? It was totally vocal on their parts. Glen and Roy are widely considered two of the greatest guitar players in country music history, while Dolly is certainly no slouch. But for this performance, they let their voices steal the show.

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