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Roy Clark, Country Music Legend and 'Hee Haw' Host Dead at 85

17 November 2018

Clark hosted Hee Haw, the longest-running syndicated show in TV history. When Dean hosted The Tonight Show, he invited Clark to perform, introducing the nation to his protegé's prodigious musical skills.

"My first CMA memory is sitting on my living room floor watching Roy Clark tear it up". He was 14 when he got his first guitar - a Christmas present, according to the AP - and within a year was playing in a square-dance band with his father, who also played the guitar, fiddle and banjo.

"I know in my heart where I rate among the great guitar players like Merle Travis and Chet Atkins and Les Paul, people who put all their efforts and talents into learning their instruments and didn't work at anything else", he told The Post in 2001.

One of the legends of country music, guitarist and singer Roy Clark, has died.

Inspired by "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, ' "Hee Haw" first aired 1969 as a show promoting country music and rural culture".

In 1982 Clark won the Grammy for best country instrumental performance for "Alabama Jubilee".

"The camera was very kind to me, and I consider myself to be a television baby", Clark said in a 2009 interview.

Clark played with the Boston Pops and other top orchestras.

Amid the success of "Hee Haw", Clark toured the Soviet Union, bringing country behind the Iron Curtain in the mid-1970s, and starred in the Western comedy "Uphill All the Way" with singer Mel Tillis. Clark was a trailblazer, becoming one of the first country performers to open a theater in Branson, Missouri. In 1960, he fronted Wanda Jackson's band, and two years later he landed his first label contract, with Capitol Records. He was adored as both the high-energy face of Hee Haw and as a crossover artist, landing singles, such as 1969's "Yesterday, When I Was Young", on the country charts and the pop charts. He also performed regularly in Las Vegas.

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

'We became a part of the family. Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.

Roy Clark, Country Music Legend and 'Hee Haw' Host Dead at 85