Country Music Legend And 'Hee Haw' Star Roy Clark Dead At 85

Nov 17, 2018, 01:35
Country Music Legend And 'Hee Haw' Star Roy Clark Dead At 85

Publicist Jeremy Westby said Clark died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For 24 years he hosted the television variety show "Hee Haw" with Sherman native Buck Owens.

Clark became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1987, and in 2009, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Clark also frequently guest-hosted The Tonight Show for Jonny Carson in the '70s, a rare opportunity for a country performer.

His biggest mainstream success - "Yesterday, When I Was Young" - written by pop balladeer Charles Aznavour - reached No. 19 on the Billboard pop chart in 1969 and featured strings and an orchestra alongside Clark's guitar. His fans included not just musicians, but baseball great Mickey Mantle. Clark not only hosted the show, but also appeared in comedy sketches and performed musical numbers, counting himself among members of the show's Million Dollar Band.

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.

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Inspired by "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, ' "Hee Haw" first aired 1969 as a show promoting country music and rural culture". He won seven Country Music Association Awards and in 1982 received a Grammy for his instrumental cover of the standard "Alabama Jubilee".

Clark's career really took off in 1960 when he was invited to perform in Las Vegas.

The legendary Jimmy Dean noticed the talented young Clark and hired him to play on radio and TV in the Washington, D.C. area.

Clark and Owens worked together for years, but they had very different feelings about "Hee Haw".

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Clark served as a host for the entire series, while Owens - who later dismissed the program as a "cartoon donkey" - left in 1986.

'We became a part of the family. "The viewers were sort of part-owners of the show", he told the Associated Press in 2004.

"Roy Clark made best use of his incredible talent", said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young in a statement on Thursday morning.

'This was the icing on the cake.

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