I certainly hope some of you all seen Sunday night's episode of Hee Haw on RFD-TV! It featured the one and only Ray Stevens as a special guest. The episode originated in October 1975, the fifth episode of the 1975-1976 television season. In a word, Ray was at his usual excellence!! His first performance of the night happened to be "Indian Love Call". Now, if you're familiar with Ray's version of that song and if you're familiar with the amazing performance he did on Pop! Goes the Country the same year then you should have been even more thrilled that he performed the song standing up...minus the confinement of the piano. Ray sang like a man possessed...full of energy and very animated as he sang the difficult number. I feel the absence of a piano allowed him to 'perform the song' but don't get me wrong...the performance on Pop! Goes the Country is just as incredible, vocally. Ray's attire on Hee Haw was similar to his attire on Pop! Goes the Country...a cream colored shirt and blue jeans.
Throughout the episode Ray appeared in a series of comical pop-up scenes, often accompanied by a thick cloud of smoke, begging to perform "Misty". In one scene Ray did his Gabby Hayes impression and recited a brief parody of "Where Do I Begin?". Ralph had also asked him to do that routine on Pop! Goes the Country.
Ray's second performance...of course, "Misty"!!! Throughout the program, as mentioned, Ray appeared in brief segments promoting the song and it's eventual performance. The actual performance, like "Indian Love Call", didn't feature him at the piano. In a sight gag, when Ray gets to the part where he sings "and a thousand violins begin to play", Ray looks around in the air several times as if to ask "where's that music coming from?". The band wasn't on camera. He may have been using a click track. In this performance he changed shirts and wore a white shirt with dashes of blue...it looked almost like the shirt he's wearing on his 1973 Nashville album...but minus the stars.
To answer the question on everyone's mind...the answer is a loud YES...Ray Stevens did have a beard during this 1975 appearance. The episode, as mentioned, originally aired in October of 1975. This means that the performances had been taped in the summer of that year. Hee Haw had a unique production cycle: a summer taping period and a fall taping period. The summer segments would be edited together to make up 13 episodes and then the fall segments would be edited together to make up 13 additional episodes (those fall produced episodes started airing early the following calendar year, the summer produced episodes are what kicked off each fall season). So, yes, an entire 26 episode season was built around 2 production periods a year.
Unfortunately RFD isn't airing Hee Haw on Monday morning anymore. It used to be a person could catch the 8pm Sunday night airing and then, if you chose, catch the replay of the program Monday morning at 10am but for the last several weeks it hasn't aired on Monday mornings. Hopefully someone will upload the episode onto You Tube...if not then those that missed it will have to wait awhile before it re-airs on RFD-TV. The channel airs a full season, then reruns those episodes, and then moves on to the next season. If I see any clips of Ray from this episode appear on You Tube I'll embed the clips in a future blog entry.