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Roy Clark Dead at 85

Roy Clark, 85, the country music Hall of Famer and Hee Haw star died Thursday (Nov. 15) of complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Okla.

Clark was a popular TV musician and comedian, including a memorable rendition of Malaguena on the Odd Couple in the 1970s and countless TV variety show guest shots. But it was for his lightning-fast picking, ever-present, often sheepish, grinning, and sweet-natured humor on the music/comedy staple Hee Haw for almost a quarter of a century for which he will be best, and most fondly, remembered by Baby Boomers.

Clark was born in Meherrin, a little town in southwestern Virginia, but grew up in Washington.

He could play banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle and toured with Grandpa Jones and Hank Williams after winning a banjo competition in 1950 and being invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He also appeared on radio and TV with fellow Washingtonian Jimmy Dean and his Texas Wildcats.

After recording his first hit, Tips of My Fingers, Clark made appearances on American Bandstand and The Tonight Show beginning a string of TV variety show appearances before Hee Haw premiered on CBS in 1969 co-starring Clark and Buck Owens. The show lasted only a couple of seasons on CBS, but moved to first-run syndication, where it remained on the air until 1992.

Clark's survivors include his wife of 61 years, Barbara, and son Roy Clark II.

A memorial celebration will be held in Tulsa. No details yet on where and when.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.