Country star Roy Clark, the legendary singer and multi-instrumentalist with
an ear-to-ear smile who headlined the hit TV show "Hee Haw" for nearly
a quarter century, has died. He was 85.
A rep for the singer told Fox News Clark died on Thursday at his Tulsa, Okla.,
home due to complications from pneumonia.
Clark was the "Hee Haw" host or co-host for its entire 24-year run,
with Buck Owens his best-known co-host. The country music and comedy
show's last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.
"'Hee Haw' won't go away. It brings a smile to too many faces," Clark said
in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.
Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. His skills brought
him gigs as a guest performer with many top orchestras,
including the Boston Pops. In 1976 he even headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking
boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.
And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
His hits included "The Tips of My Fingers" (1963), "Yesterday When I Was Young" (1969), "Come
Live With Me" (1973) and "Honeymoon Feeling" (1974). He was also known
for his instrumental versions of "Malaguena," on 12-string guitar,
and "Ghost Riders in the Sky."
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and emotionally
told the crowd how moving it was "just to be associated yourself with the
members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and imagine that your name will
be said right along with all the list."
In his 1994 autobiography, "My Life in Spite of Myself," he said "Yesterday,
When I Was Young" had "opened a lot of people's eyes not only to what I could
do but to the whole fertile and still largely untapped field of country music,
from the Glen Campbells and the Kenny Rogerses, right on through to the
Garth Brookses and Vince Gills."
Clark was a 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.
His fans included not just musicians, but baseball great Mickey Mantle. The Yankees outfielder
was moved to tears by "Yesterday When I Was Young" and for years made Clark
promise to sing it at his memorial — a request granted after Mantle died in 1995.
Beginning in 1983, Clark operated the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre in Branson, Missouri,
and was one of the first country entertainers to open a theater there. Dozens followed him.
He was a touring artist as late as the 2000s. Over the years, he played
at venues around the world: Carnegie Hall in New York, the Sporting
Club in Monte Carlo, the Grand Palace in Brussels and the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow.
Clark was born in Meherrin, Virginia, and received his first guitar on his 14th Christmas.
He was playing in his father's square dance band at age 15.
In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area. In 1960, he got
the chance to front the band of country singer Wanda Jackson. He also performed
regularly in Las Vegas. He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records,
He appeared on Jimmy Dean's TV show "Town and Country Time" and took
over the show when Dean left.
In 1997 he released "Roy Clark's Christmas Memories."
Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.
"We became a part of the family. The viewers were sort of part owners
of the show. They identified with these clowns, and we had good music."
Clark said the hour-long program of country music and corny jokes capped off his career.
"This was the icing on the cake. This put my face and name together."
Other Articles of Interest:
- Country star Roy Clark dies at age 85 at Tulsa home, friends remember the legend — Tulsa World
- Roy Clark Is Dead at 85; a Face of Country Music on ‘Hee Haw’ — The New York Times
- Roy Clark — Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' host, dies at 85 — CNN
- Roy Clark’s ‘Hee Haw’ co-star Victoria Hallman shocked over singer’s death, says 'he was born to entertain’ — Fox News
- Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85 — NPR
- Roy Clark, country guitar virtuoso, 'Hee Haw' star, dies at 85 — USA Today
- How I Got Here: From 'The Tonight Show' to 'Hee Haw,' Roy Clark played the nice guy — Tulsa World
- Roy Clark, Legendary Country Guitarist and ‘Hee Haw’ Star, Dies at 85 — Variety
- Roy Clark, country star who hosted ‘Hee Haw’ variety show, dies at 85 — Washington Post
- Roy Clark dead at 85: Fans, fellow country musicians react to 'Hee Haw' host's death — The Tennessean
- Roy Clark — Grand Ole Opry
- Country star Roy Clark remembered as 'a hero' who spread 'laughter, kindness, and positivity' — Los Angeles Times
- Roy Clark, country guitar virtuoso, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died — San Francisco Chronicle
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