TULSA, Ok. — Roy Clark, a country music star and former host of the long-running TV series “Hee Haw,” died Thursday, his publicist told CNN.
He was 85.
Clark died of complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to publicist Sandy Brokaw.
Born in Virginia and raised in Washington D.C., the guitarist and banjo player began his musical career as a young teen. He made his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry at age 17.
Band gigs led to television appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “American Bandstand”
In 1969, Clark and Buck Owens were tapped to co-host “Hee Haw.” The country music and comedy show aired in syndication for more than two decades, with Clark as host or co-host its entire run.
In a tribute to Clark sent by his representatives, they shared some quotes from the country star about his career.
“A TV camera goes right through your soul,” Clark said of his screen work. “If you’re a bad person, people pick that up. I’m a firm believer in smiles. I used to believe that everything had to be a belly laugh. But I’ve come to realize that a real sincere smile is mighty powerful.”
With hits like “The Tips of My Fingers” and “Yesterday, When I Was Young,” Clark was one of the first cross-over artists to land singles on both the country and pop charts.
In 1982, Clark won a Grammy for best country instrumental performance for “Alabama Jubilee.” He was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry
“Soon as you hit the edge of the stage and see people smiling and know they’re there to hear you, it’s time to have fun,” Clark once said about performing. “I keep a band of great young people around me, and we’re not musically restrained. It’s not about ‘let’s do it correct’ but ‘let’s do it right.'”
Clark ended each of his performances with a humorous note of appreciation: “We had to come, but you had a choice. Thanks for being here.”
He is survived by extensive family and his wife of 61 years, Barbara.
A memorial celebration is planned in Tulsa in the coming days, according to Clark’s representative.