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

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

After years of touring and recording, he joined Buck Owens as the co-star of the CBS variety show "Hee-Haw".

Roy Clark, best known to TV audiences as co-host of the long-running country music variety series Hee Haw, has died at the age of 85. Clark also frequently guest-hosted The Tonight Show for Jonny Carson in the '70s, a rare opportunity for a country performer. His father, who played in a square dance band, took him to see the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands. Many others would follow the example of Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre.

A remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist, Clark started out on the banjo and mandolin; when he was 14, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present - and made his first television appearance that same year.

In 1963, he had his first Top Ten hit with his somber version of Bill Anderson's "Tips of My Fingers".

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In 1976, he became one of the first country stars to tour the Soviet Union, and in 1983 he was the first country star to open a theater in Branson, Missouri, according to USA Today.

In October 2000, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and he was actively involved with school children who attend the Roy Clark Elementary School in Tulsa, Okla.

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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