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Roy Clark passes away at age 85

15 November 2018

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.

One of the legends of country music, guitarist and singer Roy Clark, has died. In 1960, Clark opened for Wanda Jackson in Las Vegas, and would go on to co-headline in Lake Tahoe with Andy Griffith and appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand in the years that followed. He started playing guitar at age 14, and a year later was performing in his father's square dance band.

He was first invited to the Grand Ole Opry as a teenager, after winning a national banjo competition in 1950. Clark also frequently guest-hosted The Tonight Show for Jonny Carson in the '70s, a rare opportunity for a country performer.

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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". While he was first and foremost a country artist, Clark was something of a polymath, with facility in rock, jazz and pop; he became the first country artist to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival and recorded an album with jazz artist Joe Pass in 1994.

In 1982 Clark won the Grammy for best country instrumental performance for "Alabama Jubilee". New York Yankees icon Mickey Mantle loved the song so much he implored Clark to play it as his funeral, a request which the musician honored when the time came in 1995.

Roy Clark passes away at age 85