Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85

Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85

Roy Clark, a country music star and former host of the long-running TV series "Hee Haw", died Thursday, his representative told CNN.

Clark succumbed to complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to publicist Sandy Brokaw.

The legendary "superpicker", GRAMMY, CMA and ACM award victor, Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member and co-host of the famed "Hee Haw" television series, died due to complications from pneumonia. First airing from 1969-1971, and again in syndication from 1971-1993, Hee Haw became an iconic country music touchstone, and more than 600 episodes of the show were produced in total. He was 14 when he got his first guitar - a Christmas present, according to the AP - and within a year was playing in a square-dance band with his father, who also played the guitar, fiddle and banjo.

In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area.

Clark was guest host on "The Tonight Show" several times in the 1960s and 1970s when it was rare for a country performer to land such a role.

But Clark hit his big break in 1960, when he was invited to Las Vegas to open for country artist Wanda Jackson.

In 1982, Clark won a Grammy for best Country Instrumental Performance for "Alabama Jubilee", and opened his own theater in Branson, Missouri the following year. He had almost two-dozen Top 40 country hits, including "The Tip of My Fingers", "Yesterday, When I Was Young" and "I Never Picked Cotton". He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records, in 1962.

A source of comic relief as well as musical flair, Clark played alongside musicians including Owens, banjo player Grandpa Jones and singer Kenny Price, with whom he formed the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet. His most notable co-host was fellow country musician Buck Owens, but while Owens left the show in 1986, Clark stayed on until the end. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music".

"This was the icing on the cake".

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