John Aylesworth Passes

John Aylesworth (L) with actor Lorne Greene on the Hee Haw set in 1976. Photo Credit: Family Photo

Veteran television producer John Aylesworth died Wednesday in Rancho Mirage, CA at age 81.

He was best known to Nashvillians as the co-producer of the enormously successful country-music series Hee Haw. Born in Canada, Aylesworth moved to the U.S. in 1958 to write for the CBS TV series Your Hit Parade. He and his writing partner Frank Peppiatt went on to write television specials for Perry Como, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, as well as the rock ‘n’ roll TV series Hullabaloo.

When Laugh-In and The Beverly Hillbillies were the two top-rated programs on TV, Aylesworth and Peppiatt decided to combine elements from both, and Hee Haw was the result. At the time, neither man had ever been to the South. But from 1969 to 1993 they traveled to Nashville twice a year to tape the long-running show. At its peak, Hee Haw showcased every major star in country music and was seen by 15 million people a week.
Earlier this year, Aylesworth published his memoir, The Corn Was Green: The Inside Story of Hee Haw.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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