Roy Clark, County Music Legend, Dies at 85

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

It was in 1969, however, when Clark landed the role that proved the cornerstone of his career - the host of the country-tinged TV variety series Hee Haw, alongside Buck Owens, which enjoyed an initial run until 1971 and set a TV syndication record by airing through 1997. He started playing guitar at age 14, and a year later was performing in his father's square dance band.

While Clark often performed with the banjo, fiddle and mandolin, he was best known for his brilliance on the guitar. Clark also frequently guest-hosted The Tonight Show for Jonny Carson in the '70s, a rare opportunity for a country performer.

Clark was born April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Virginia and grew up in Washington, D.C. He is survived by Barbara, his wife of 61 years, and their four sons.

"I was subjected to different kinds of music before I ever played", Clark once said.

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 inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Amid the success of "Hee Haw", Clark toured the Soviet Union, bringing country behind the Iron Curtain in the mid-1970s, and starred in the Western comedy "Uphill All the Way" with singer Mel Tillis.

Clark worked with fellow country musicians for more than half a century, from Hank Williams to Brad Paisley and countless others who either made their way into a "Hee Haw" skit or the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records, in 1962.

Victoria Hallman, who appeared on the long-running country show, said she's "just stunned" by his passing. Though he was no slouch as a comedian, as Hee-Haw and appearances on The Odd Couple and The Beverly Hillbillies attest, it's ultimately his incredible musical skills that will be his legacy, as he proved with regular performances at his theater in Branson throughout the nineties and 'aughts. "The viewers were sort of part-owners of the show", he told the Associated Press in 2004.

"We became a part of the family".

'This was the icing on the cake.

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