April 10, 1926|
|Origin||Knoxville, Tennessee, USA|
|Died||November 13, 1983
A sixth grade dropout, Samples was a stock car racing driver and carpenter by trade who went on the radio at the age of 40 and told a story about catching the largest fish ever seen in his hometown. The story was a humorous tall tale, and the recording of this radio story became a best-selling novelty record.
He was asked to become part of the 1969 cast of Hee Haw, and created a bumbling personality, often slurring his way through delivery, messing up jokes and forgetting lines. One of his most famous blunders was from "The Cornfield" sketch...
- Junior: "What did the judge lock up old Stan Hawkins fer?"
- Roy Clark: "Bigotry. He had three wives!"
- Junior: "That's not bigotry, that's trig...trem...tri..." The word he continually slipped on was "trigonometry".
In this way, Samples did much to contribute to the post-Laugh In surrealist comedy of the show, with its strange combination of absurdist kitsch and down-home non sequiturs. He was known for being one of the foursome (the others were Gordie Tapp; Grandpa Jones and Lulu Roman) that made up the eponymous family of the skit called "The Culhanes of Cornfield County".
Samples' most famous bit was as a used car salesman, inviting callers to call an older five-digit phone number, BR-549 (in the show's later years, the number was changed to BR-1Z1Z). When Hee Haw episodes were later sold to the public through a TV ad, the initial 800 number was a takeoff of Samples' comedy bit. In 1993 BR5-49 was also taken as a name by an American country music band.
In 1974, Samples announced that he was "seriously considering" running for lieutenant governor of Georgia on a Republican ticket with then-mayor Ronnie Thompson, who was seeking the party's gubernatorial nomination. The media at first presented Samples' announcement as a political story. However, Samples was pulling a practical joke for publicity purposes. Thompson remained in the race and was defeated in the general election by the Democrat George D. Busbee.
Personal life and death
Samples, whose weight sometimes neared four hundred pounds, was on Hee Haw for 14 years, until he died of a heart attack at the age of 57 in 1983. His funeral was officiated by close friend Rev. Douglas Collins.
Throughout the years Samples recorded several albums. Although he was known for his television appearances on Hee Haw, he was well received by radio. His first break came in 1966 with the recording of "The Whopper." He was nominated for two Comedian of the Year Awards from the Country Music Awards in 1969 and 1970, and released a number of other comedy albums.
- The World of Junior Samples (1967)
- Bull Session at Bull's Gap (1968)
- That's a Hee Haw (1970)
- Junior Samples and Archie Campbell (1977)
- Billboard - Google Books. Retrieved 2011-03-19.Samples Nominated for Comedy Award
- "BR5-49; the REAL Story". Retrieved 2011-03-19.The real story of BR-549
- "A Prairie Home Companion from American Public Media". Retrieved 2011-03-19.BR549 The Group
- "Junior Samples (1926 - 1983) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2011-03-19.Junior Samples
- "Junior Samples, 56, Is Dead - Regular on 'Hee Haw' Show - Obituary - NYTimes.com". The New York Times. 1983-11-14. Retrieved 2011-03-19.Obit
- "Junior Samples Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 2011-03-19.Discography of Junior Samples
- "1969 Academy of Country Music Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-19.1969 Samples Nominated for Comedy Award
- "1970 Academy of Country Music Awards". Retrieved 2011-03-19.1970 Comedy nomination