Clay Hart, a talented country music singer and guitarist who was a member of The Lawrence Welk Show from 1969 to 1975, passed away on July 28, 2022, at the age of 80. He had been suffering from health issues for some time, and died peacefully at his home in Cocoa, Florida, surrounded by his loved ones. He left behind a legacy of music, humor, and generosity that touched millions of fans and friends.
A Passionate and Versatile Musician
Clay Hart was born on July 1, 1936, in Providence, Rhode Island, to an Italian-Irish family. He discovered his talent for music at an early age, and learned to play the guitar, piano, and harmonica. He also had a knack for impressions, and could mimic hundreds of celebrities and politicians. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts as a theater arts major, but his true calling was in music. He pursued a music career, often performing in small clubs and bars, despite working as a salesman and a credit analyst after graduation.
He got his big break in 1969, when he was discovered by Lawrence Welk, who was impressed by his skill and charisma. He joined The Lawrence Welk Show as the resident country singer, replacing Lynn Anderson. He stayed on the show until 1975, and became a fan favorite for his versatile and lively performances. He could sing anything from traditional country to pop, rock, and gospel, and he often added his own humorous twists to the songs. He also showcased his impressive guitar skills and his ability to impersonate anyone, from Elvis Presley to Richard Nixon.
He also had a successful solo career, releasing several albums and singles. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1969 for his song “Spring”, which was a hit on the country charts. He also collaborated with other artists, such as Tommy Alsop, who produced his album Travelin’ Minstrel Man in 1973. He performed in various venues, such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City, and entertained audiences with his music and comedy.
A Loving and Generous Person
Clay Hart married Sally Flynn, a fellow singer and performer, on December 6, 1974. They had met on The Lawrence Welk Show, where she was a vocalist until 1972. They formed a country singing duo, and opened for stars such as Mel Tillis, Red Skelton, and Juliet Prowse. They also recorded segments for the reruns of the Welk Show on PBS, and toured the country with their fellow Welk stars in the Forever Blowing Bubbles concert series. They were a devoted and happy couple, who shared a love for music and each other.
Clay Hart had two children, Elizabeth and Hank, from a previous marriage, and a granddaughter, Sophia. He was a loving and caring father and grandfather, who enjoyed spending time with his family. He was also a devout Catholic, who attended Mass regularly and prayed for his fans. He was a philanthropist, who supported various causes and charities, such as the USO, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. He entertained troops overseas, visited sick children in hospitals, and raised funds for cancer research. He was a positive and optimistic person, who always expressed his gratitude and faith.
A Legend and an Inspiration
Clay Hart’s death was mourned by his fans, colleagues, and friends, who paid tribute to him on social media and in the media. Many of them praised him for his contribution to the country music industry and his impact on their lives. He was a legend and an inspiration, who brought joy and laughter to millions of people. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him and watched him. Rest in peace, Clay Hart.