Roy Clark, 'Hee Haw' Host And Country Music Ambassador, Dies At 85

Oscar Cross
November 17, 2018

Roy Clark, a country music icon, died Thursday morning at his Tulsa, Okla., home due to complications from pneumonia, his publicist said.

Clark hosted Hee Haw, the longest-running syndicated show in TV history. In the mid-'50s, Clark honed his television chops as a regular on Country Style, the D.C. -based television show hosted by Jimmy Dean, eventually taking over as host after Dean relocated to NY.

'Hee Haw won't go away.

Clark went on to become a staple of Las Vegas showrooms and Atlantic City casinos and performed at leading venues such as Carnegie Hall in NY and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the country music mecca where he was enshrined as a member in 1987. Among his solo hits were "Yesterday When I Was Young", "Come Live With Me", "Honeymoon Feeling", and "The Tips of My Fingers".


But Clark was a country star in his own right, and an incredibly accomplished (and often underrated) musician who earned acclaim for his hit instrumental versions of "Malaguena" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky". Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers. His father, a laborer who later worked for Department of Health, Education and Welfare, played the guitar, fiddle and banjo in a square-dance group, and took him to performances by military bands and the National Symphony Orchestra. Clark told The Associated Press in 2004 that "Hee Haw" was like a family reunion.

In his 1994 autobiography, "My Life in Spite of Myself, ' he said 'Yesterday, When I Was Young" had 'opened a lot of people's eyes not only to what I could do but to the whole fertile and still largely untapped field of country music, from the Glen Campbells and the Kenny Rogerses, right on through to the Garth Brookses and Vince Gills'. Roy Clark died in Tulsa, OK on November 15, 2018. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music". With seven nominations throughout his career, Clark's recording of "Alabama Jubilee" won a Grammy Award in 1982.

Born Roy Linwood Clark on April 15, 1933 in Meherrin, Va., he grew up mostly in Washington, D.C., and gained a love of all kinds of music early on.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER