Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' host, dies at 85

  • Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' host, dies at 85

Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' host, dies at 85

Most listeners knew him from their television screens, where he filled in for Johnny Carson as a guest host of "The Tonight Show", played recurring characters on "The Beverly Hillbillies" and, beginning with the show's premiere in 1969, co-hosted "Hee Haw" with singer Buck Owens. The country music and comedy show aired in syndication for more than two decades, with Clark as host or co-host its entire run.

"'Hee Haw' won't go away". "Sending all my love and respect to him and his family for all he did". He became skilled in all manner of stringed instruments, including the banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers.

And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His biggest hit overall was "Yesterday When I Was Young", a cover of a French song by Charles Aznavour that Clark turned into a top 20 pop hit in 1969. He was also known for his instrumental versions of "Malaguena", on 12-string guitar, and "Ghost Riders in the Sky".

He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1987, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 1982 Clark won the Grammy for best country instrumental performance for "Alabama Jubilee". "I keep a band of great young people around me, and we're not musically restrained". Clark was a trailblazer, becoming one of the first country performers to open a theater in Branson, Missouri. Performing at storied venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall, the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo and the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow, Clark remained a popular touring act as late as the 2000s.

But it was the guitar that gave Clark his career.

Clark's career really took off in 1960 when he was invited to perform in Las Vegas.

A source of comic relief as well as musical flair, Clark played alongside musicians including Owens, banjo player Grandpa Jones and singer Kenny Price, with whom he formed the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music". "This put my face and name together".