(December 20, 2016 – Toronto, ON) He was born Gordon Robert Tapp but as Gordie Tapp he became a highly successful comedian, musician, script writer and television host who built his TV career on his popularity as a radio host in the early and mid-1950s. He first worked in his hometown of London, Ontario before moving to Guelph and radio station CJOY. It was a career path common in those days; starting in a smaller market to gain experience and then moving on to larger and larger markets. Tapp left Guelph for Hamilton and radio station CHML where he became a mainstay and laid the foundations for his later success. He gained fame for Main Street Jamboree, a radio program that successfully moved to television. It was here that he honed his comedic abilities, and it was this show that put him on the map.
He then worked for 13 years as the host of the CBC program Country Hoedown before being lured away by the promise of a huge American audience. Based in Nashville he joined the cast of Hee Haw where his country bumpkin character of Cousin Clem (pictured) became a show favourite. He was both a writer and a performer on the show.
Tapp was awarded the Order of Canada in 1998 for his years of fund-raising for medical charities, including Muscular Dystrophy Canada and Easter Seals. He was given the Order of Ontario in 1999. He had become a member of the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame in 1990. Tapp’s memoir, What’s On Tapp? The Gordie Tapp Story Alias Cousin Clem, was written with John Farrington and was published in 2006.
Gordie Tapp was 94 when he died in Burlington, Ontario due to complications of pneumonia.