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Roy Clark passes away at age 85

Roy Clark passes away at age 85

Clark, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, was beloved by generations of fans for his work on the TV show Hee Haw, which he joined in 1969, acting as joyful co-host for almost a quarter century.

Publicist Jeremy Westby said Clark died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

When the network canceled the show two-and-a-half years later, the program moved into syndication and aired until 1992.

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.

He also performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and cut records with musicians including blues guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown ("Makin' Music", 1979) and jazz guitarist Joe Pass ("Roy Clark & Joe Pass Play Hank Williams", 1994). In 2009 he received induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame and still made television appearances as late as 2009.




He was born Roy Linwood Clark on April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Va. Clark was the oldest of five children in a musical family. Among his solo hits were "Yesterday When I Was Young", "Come Live With Me", "Honeymoon Feeling", and "The Tips of My Fingers".

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

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. He started playing guitar at age 14, and a year later was performing in his father's square dance band.

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. Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.

Keith Urban, who won entertainer of the year Wednesday night from the Country Music Association, also honored Clark on Thursday. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music". That same year, his work on the song "Alabama Jubilee" earned him the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental Performance.

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