Roy Clark, Hee Haw Host, Dead at 85

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Clark, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry, was beloved by generations of fans for his work on the TV show Hee Haw, which he joined in 1969, acting as joyful co-host for almost a quarter century.

The former star of "Hew Haw" died Thursday at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Clark was best known for hosting with Buck Owens the country comedy and music show Hee Haw. First airing from 1969-1971, and again in syndication from 1971-1993, Hee Haw became an iconic country music touchstone, and more than 600 episodes of the show were produced in total. He became skilled in all manner of stringed instruments, including the banjo, fiddle, and mandolin.

Throughout Hee Haw's long run, Clark maintained his fruitful solo career, earning further Top Ten hits with "I Never Picked Cotton" and "If I Had It to Do All Over Again".

He played with bands in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1950s before a gig performing alongside country singer Wanda Jackson helped launch him to prominence - and to a recording contract with Capitol Records - in the early 1960s.

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Clark also frequently guest-hosted The Tonight Show for Jonny Carson in the '70s, a rare opportunity for a country performer.

Clark was a Grammy, ACM and CMA award victor, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

According to the guitarist's biography at the Country Music Hall of Fame website, Clark was one of the first Americans artists who played in the then-Soviet Union in 1976. He also performed regularly in Las Vegas.

He appeared on Jimmy Dean's TV show "Town and Country Time" and took over the show when Dean left.

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