Roy Clark, County Music Legend, Dies at 85

Roy Clark, Country Music Legend and 'Hee Haw' Host Dead at 85

Country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the cornpone TV show "Hee Haw" for almost a quarter century and was known for such hits as "Yesterday When I was Young" and "Honeymoon Feeling", has died.

A rep for the Grammy, CMA and ACM Award victor tells us Clark died Thursday morning at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Clark was "Hee Haw" host or co-host for its entire 24-year run, with Buck Owens his best known co-host. 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.

"'Hee Haw' won't go away".

Clark also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

But Clark was a country star in his own right, and an incredibly accomplished (and often underrated) musician who earned acclaim for his hit instrumental versions of "Malaguena" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky".

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The first instruments little Roy learned at an early age were the banjo and mandolin, but it was the guitar strings that touched his soul.

Clark played with the Boston Pops and other top orchestras. Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers.

Hallman's rep Ruth Elkins said Clark remained passionate about music until his death. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show.

In addition to being an affable TV host, Clark was also a skilled country musician himself.

Born April 15, 1933, in Meherrin, Virginia, Clark grew up in Washington, D.C., and was the pioneer who turned Branson, Missouri, into the live music capitol of the world.

There will be a memorial to honor the singer in Tulsa - which Roy has called home since 1974 - in the coming days. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music". He won seven Country Music Association Awards and in 1982 received a Grammy for his instrumental cover of the standard "Alabama Jubilee". He started playing guitar at age 14, and a year later was performing in his father's square dance band.

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