Cliff Crofford, co-host of the mid-1950s KBAK-TV show "The Chuck Wagon Gang" and a prolific honky-tonk club performer and movie-soundtrack songwriter, died Sunday, two days after suffering a massive stroke, according to his granddaughter, Danielle Crofford Fetters.
Crofford, who would have turned 80 on Dec. 12, played with Bill Woods' Orange Blossom Playboys at the Blackboard saloon and at various local venues with the Jimmy Thomason Band. He co-hosted the KBAK show with Billy Mize using the Blackboard band, headed by Buck Owens, and was later a regular on "Town Hall Party" and "The Cal Worthington Show," two Los Angeles-based programs.
Crofford also toured with Johnny Cash and Roger Miller and worked for many years at the famous Foothill Club in Long Beach.
Throughout his career, Crofford played in three bands, the Orange Blossom Playboys with Bill Woods, the Jimmy Thomason Band and the Beardsley Ball Room. He also appeared at several clubs in Bakersfield, including the Blackboard, the Clover Club and the Lucky Spot.
Some of his greatest fame came from his work in movies, that included not only his songs, but appearance in Clint Eastwood's film "Every Which Way But Loose" and Burt Reynold's "Smokey and the Bandit II."