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

Joann Johnston
November 16, 2018

Roy Clark, country guitarist, co-host of the long-running TV series Hee Haw and Country Music Hall of Fame member, has died at the age of 85.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, according to a statement from his publicists, Sandy Brokaw and Jeremy Westby.

Clark was soon touring with country legend Hank Williams and first played the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, according to his publicist.

Hee Haw co-hosts Roy Clark, right, and Buck Owens, pictured on November 26, 1969. Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers. The country music and comedy show aired in syndication for more than two decades, with Clark as host or co-host its entire run. "Clark also displayed his six (or, in the case of his cover of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky, 12)-string prowess with his instrumental covers of pieces like "Malagueña".

Roy is preceded in death by his beloved grandson Elijah Clark who passed at the age of fourteen on September 24, 2018. In 1969, his song "Yesterday, When I Was Young" became a hit on both the pop and country music charts; other major hits included "Come Live with Me" in 1973, and "Somewhere Between Love and Tomorrow".

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In 1982 Clark won the Grammy for best country instrumental performance for "Alabama Jubilee".

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 became something of an ambassador for country music, not just in the US but internationally, appearing in locales as far-flung as the Soviet Union, where he did a groundbreaking tour in 1976.

Clark was born in Meherrin, Virginia, and received his first guitar on his 14th Christmas.

But Clark hit his big break in 1960, when he was invited to Las Vegas to open for country artist Wanda Jackson.

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