Published: Thu, November 15, 2018

Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Clark dies at age 85

Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Clark dies at age 85

Roy Clark - the legendary country singer and host of "Hee Haw" - has died.

Roy Clark, a country music star and former host of the long-running TV series "Hee Haw", died Thursday, his publicist told CNN.

Clark succumbed to complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to publicist Sandy Brokaw.

Clark became something of an ambassador for country music, not just in the US but internationally, appearing in locales as far-flung as the Soviet Union, where he did a groundbreaking tour in 1976. Many others would follow the example of Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre. He started playing guitar at age 14, and a year later was performing in his father's square dance band.

The guitarist and banjo player began his musical career as a young teen, making his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry at age 17. "Clark also displayed his six (or, in the case of his cover of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky, 12)-string prowess with his instrumental covers of pieces like "Malagueña". Clark was a trailblazer, becoming one of the first country performers to open a theater in Branson, Missouri. 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".

Clark was a Grammy, ACM and CMA award victor, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. New York Yankees icon Mickey Mantle loved the song so much he implored Clark to play it as his funeral, a request which the musician honored when the time came in 1995.

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