Published: Sat, November 17, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Merle Christensen

Country music guitarist Roy Clark dies aged 85

Country music guitarist Roy Clark dies aged 85

Clark, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, was beloved by generations of fans for his work on the TV show Hee Haw, which he joined in 1969, acting as joyful co-host for almost a quarter century. According to his publicist Jeremy Westby, Clark died at home in Tulsa, Okla., Thursday, due to complications from pneumonia. The country music and comedy show's last episode aired in 1993. Clark took up the banjo, guitar, and mandolin (and, later, fiddle and harmonica) at age 14, and by age 15 he was not only playing in his father's square-dance band but had won several national and worldwide banjo championships. His skills brought him gigs as guest performer with many top orchestras, including the Boston Pops. I just have to assume something happened to him because of the weather and he just never recovered, ' she added. "I saw a person".

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. 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. He was playing in his father's square dance band at age 15.

While Clark's musicianship and technical abilities were sometimes overlooked by critics who saw only the hayseed star of "Hee Haw", he said he had few regrets about his career path.

The legendary Jimmy Dean noticed the talented young Clark and hired him to play on radio and TV in the Washington, D.C. area.

But Clark hit his big break in 1960, when he was invited to Las Vegas to open for country artist Wanda Jackson. He got his first recording contract, with Capitol Records, in 1962.

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Victoria Hallman, who appeared on the long-running country show, said she's "just stunned" by his passing.

Clark appeared on ACL in 1980 with Gatemouth Brown, as noted above, and again in 1982 for a solo show that was released that same year on LP at The Roy Clark Show Live From Austin City Limits.

Thanks to his performance there, Clark earned seven CMA Awards from 1970 to 1980 in four different categories: Comedian of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year (alongside Buck Trent), and Instrumentalist of the Year. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show.

"Roy Clark made best use of his incredible talent", said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young in a statement on Thursday morning.

'This was the icing on the cake.

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