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But then came “Hee Haw”–which I watched religiously from the early ‘70s on until it ended in 1992—followed by a block of country syndicated programming also including the short-lived “Hee Haw Honeys” sitcom spin-off (co-starring Kathie Lee Johnson, now better known as Kathie Lee Gifford, as a member of the fictitious Honey family), “That Good Ole Nashville Music,” “Pop Goes the Country” and “The Porter Wagoner Show.” “They were the ‘young hunk’ answer to the ‘Hee Haw’ honeys’,” Sam Lovullo, the show’s longtime producer, told me last week when I called him to commiserate on Jon Hager’s death at age 67 on Jan. A wonderful, caring man, Sam had warmly welcomed me on the “Hee Haw” set for years during my regular Nashville visits; in return, I brought in John Hiatt as a guest, fulfilling one of John’s biggest dreams—to pop out of the “Hee Haw” haystacks and utter a juvenile joke).“We brought them on for their music ability but they got involved with comedy,” Sam continued.Outgoing and accessible, [they] were part of what makes Nashville known as America’s friendliest city.
“No matter where they went, they liked to do ‘Pfft You Were Gone’,’” said Lovullo, referring to the regular “Hee Haw” musical interlude where a cast member and guest star would pop out of the cornfield and sing Buck Owen’s lovelorn tune ending with “You met another and phht! Singers as well as comedians, Buck had discovered them at a gig at Disneyland.
you were gone”—the guest gobbing all over the cast member in blowing out the “phht! They opened for him and other top country acts including Tex Ritter, Wynn Stewart and Lefty Frizzell.
I used to see them every year at Fan Fair, when the huge country music fan-appreciation event now staged downtown was held at Nashville’s dusty Fairgrounds.
“The irony is that humans can’t go there [it’s closed to the general public].
We did a fundraiser in October, and he asked me to co-MC because he was never onstage alone.