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

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

Clark's show "Hee Haw" - a country music variety show - ran for 24 years. making it one of the longest syndicated television shows in history.

Clark succumbed to complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to publicist Sandy Brokaw. The country music and comedy show's last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter. He recorded hits like "The Tips Of My Fingers", "If I Had It To Do All Over Again" and "Thank God And Greyhound You're Gone".

He played with bands in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1950s before a gig performing alongside country singer Wanda Jackson helped launch him to prominence - and to a recording contract with Capitol Records - in the early 1960s.

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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. He had almost two-dozen Top 40 country hits, including "The Tip of My Fingers", "Yesterday, When I Was Young" and "I Never Picked Cotton". His rendition of "Alabama Jubilee" was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 1982.

Additionally, Clark was a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. "The viewers were sort of part-owners of the show", he told the Associated Press in 2004.

According to the guitarist's biography at the Country Music Hall of Fame website, Clark was one of the first Americans artists who played in the then-Soviet Union in 1976. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music".

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