Archie Campbell, nationally known comedian and country music artist, was born in Bulls Gap, a small railroad town in Hawkins County. He began his performing career on several Knoxville radio stations. In the 1930s Campbell was a creator of the Tennessee Barn Dance radio show, where he introduced his “grandpappy” character; he later joined Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, the Carlisles, Homer and Jethro, Pee Wee King, and Eddie Hill on WNOX's Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round. After serving in the navy during World War II, he started his own show, Country Playhouse, on WROL-TV, which featured such stars as Carl Smith, Carl and Pearl Butler, and Flatt and Scruggs.
He and his wife Mary, whom he called “Pudge,” and their two sons moved to Nashville in 1958 when he was hired to record for RCA records and to perform a three-minute broadcast on the Grand Ole Opry radio program every Saturday night. In 1969, the same year he was named Comedian of the Year by the Country Music Association, Campbell joined the cast of Hee Haw. He played a barber, a doctor, and a judge and was credited by fellow cast members as a major reason for the television show's longtime success.
Most remembered for his earthy humor, trademark cigar, and “spoonerisms,” (fairy tales using mixed-up syllables), Campbell also achieved a successful musical career. His RCA Victor recordings included “The Men in My Little Girl's Life,” “Trouble in the Amen Corner,” “Twelfth Rose,” “Hockey Here Tonight,” “Pee Little Thrigs,” “Rindercella,” “Beeping Sleuty,” “The Drunk,” “The Cockfight,” considered by some the greatest record of his career, and “Make Friends,” the gospel hit that became his theme song. His album Bedtime Stories for Adults remained the number one country comedy album in sales for three decades.
Campbell also devoted much time to charity work and his hobbies, painting and golf. Before commencing his career, he studied art for two years at Mars Hill College in North Carolina and sold many of his paintings later in life. The Archie Campbell Museum at Bulls Gap in Hawkins County interprets his life and contributions to country music.