Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85

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A publicist says country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the TV show "Hee Haw" for almost a quarter century, has died. According to his publicist Jeremy Westby, Clark died at home in Tulsa, Okla., Thursday, due to complications from pneumonia.

Clark was best known for hosting with Buck Owens the country comedy and music show Hee Haw.

The legendary country music singer and long time host of the television show "Hee Haw", made an impact throughout the nation. Clark took up the banjo, guitar, and mandolin (and, later, fiddle and harmonica) at age 14, and by age 15 he was not only playing in his father's square-dance band but had won several national and global banjo championships. After the dissolution of Jackson's band, Clark savvily hired her old manager, who secured him appearances on The Tonight Show and Beverly Hillbillies.His first album, 1962's The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark, was soon followed by his first hit single, "The Tips of My Fingers", the next year.

We at Austin City Limits extend our condolences to the family and friends of country guitarist, singer and comedian Roy Clark, who passed away today at the age of 85. Started in 1969, the show featured the top stars in country music, including Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, as well as other musical greats including Ray Charles, Chet Atkins and Boots Randolph.

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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. His father, a laborer who later worked for Department of Health, Education and Welfare, played the guitar, fiddle and banjo in a square-dance group, and took him to performances by military bands and the National Symphony Orchestra. In 1976 he headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.

Carl Vaughn lives in Whitesboro but also spent 20 years in the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee.

New York Yankees icon Mickey Mantle loved the song so much he implored Clark to play it as his funeral, a request which the musician honored when the time came in 1995. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show. He won seven Country Music Association Awards and in 1982 received a Grammy for his instrumental cover of the standard "Alabama Jubilee".

'This was the icing on the cake.

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