Roy Clark, Hee Haw Host, Dead at 85

Danny Woods
November 16, 2018

Country star Roy Clark, the guitar virtuoso and singer who headlined the cornpone TV show "Hee Haw" for almost a quarter century and was known for such hits as "Yesterday When I was Young" and "Honeymoon Feeling", has died.

According to a statement from his publicist, Clark died due to complications from pneumonia.

His biggest hit overall was "Yesterday When I Was Young", a cover of a French song by Charles Aznavour that Clark turned into a top 20 pop hit in 1969.

Co-hosts Buck Owens, left, and Roy Clark, right, perform with other cast members during a taping of "Hee Haw" in 1986 in Nashville, Tenn.

"'Hee Haw' won't go away".

Clark entered the Grand Ole Opry in 1987 and performed his hit tune "Yesterday, When I Was Young" at the request of Mickey Mantle at the Yankee great's funeral. 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".

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He was also known for his instrumental versions of 'Malaguena, ' on 12-string guitar, and 'Ghost Riders in the Sky'. His musical style proved an influence on countless country artists after him and, after building a following through his music, Hee Haw and appearances on The Tonight Show, he opened the Missouri-based Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre in 1983, a pioneering business move that provided a venue to foster young musical talent for decades after. Over the years, he played at venues around the world: Carnegie Hall in NY, the Sporting Club in Monte Carlo, the Grand Palace in Brussels and the Rossiya Theatre in Moscow. 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.

Clark was born April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Virginia and grew up in Washington, D.C. He is survived by Barbara, his wife of 61 years, and their four sons.

Clark bee-bopped around playing with several artists for years - including David "Stringbean" Akeman and Wanda Jackson - before signing with Capitol Records. Shown between Owens and Clark is actor Ernest Borgnine, a guest on that episode. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show.

Clark said the hour-long program of country music and corny jokes capped off his career.

'This was the icing on the cake.

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