Roy Clark, country music star, dies at age 85

Roy Clark and Brad Paisley perform onstage at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena

Clark served as co-host of Hee Haw in all three of its incarnations; the series began on CBS in 1969, then transitioned to first-run syndication in 1971, where it ran through 1993.

In addition to being an affable TV host, Clark was also a skilled country musician himself.

Country music entertainer Roy Clark, who crossed over to the mainstream via the long-running variety show "Hee Haw", died Thursday at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father, who played in a square dance band, took him to see the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands. Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers. That was followed by his first country hit, "The Tips Of My Fingers". He became skilled in all manner of stringed instruments, including the banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. While he was first and foremost a country artist, Clark was something of a polymath, with facility in rock, jazz and pop; he became the first country artist to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival and recorded an album with jazz artist Joe Pass in 1994.


In 1982, Clark won a Grammy for best Country Instrumental Performance for "Alabama Jubilee", and opened his own theater in Branson, Missouri the following year.

Baseball legend Mickey Mantle, a longtime fan and friend of Clark's, requested that Clark perform "Yesterday, When I Was Young" at his funeral, a promise Clark kept when Mantle died in 1995.

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