Roy Clark, Hee Haw Host, Dead at 85

Roy Clark, Hee Haw Host, Dead at 85

Roy Clark, Hee Haw Host, Dead at 85

Clark hosted the beloved Hee Haw for almost 25 years, beginning in 1969, where he helped usher country music into the national spotlight-even spreading it to worldwide ears, too (he once trail-blazed a tour across the Soviet Union).

"Roy Clark shaped my path", Paisely said in another Tweet. He was playing in his father's square dance band at age 15.

Created as a countrified version of the comedy show "Laugh-In", "Hee Haw" originally aired on CBS but was canceled after two years in what became known as the "rural purge", when down-home shows such as "Green Acres" were canned in favor of programs that purportedly appealed to a younger, more sophisticated demographic.

In 1987, Clark became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area.

A source of comic relief as well as musical flair, Clark played alongside musicians including Owens, banjo player Grandpa Jones and singer Kenny Price, with whom he formed the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet.

His hits included "The Tips of My Fingers" (1963), "Yesterday When I Was Young" (1969), "Come Live With Me" (1973) and "Honeymoon Feeling" (1974). Clark also found crossover success with the 1969 hit "Yesterday, When I Was Young" - a song he performed at Mickey Mantle's funeral in 1995. In 1976 he headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.

Clark played with the Boston Pops and other top orchestras. Though he was no slouch as a comedian, as Hee-Haw and appearances on The Odd Couple and The Beverly Hillbillies attest, it's ultimately his fantastic musical skills that will be his legacy, as he proved with regular performances at his theater in Branson throughout the nineties and 'aughts.

Clark bee-bopped around playing with several artists for years - including David "Stringbean" Akeman and Wanda Jackson - before signing with Capitol Records.

Clark's career really took off in 1960 when he was invited to perform in Las Vegas. Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.

"This was the icing on the cake".

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