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Country star Roy Clark, the legendary singer and multi-instrumentalist with an ear-to-ear smile who headlined the hit TV show "Hee Haw" for nearly a quarter century, has died. He was 85.

A rep for the singer told Fox News Clark died on Thursday at his Tulsa, Okla., home due to complications from pneumonia.


Clark was the "Hee Haw" host or co-host for its entire 24-year run, with Buck Owens his best-known co-host. The country music and comedy show's last episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.

"'Hee Haw' won't go away. It brings a smile to too many faces," Clark said in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.

Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. His skills brought him gigs as a guest performer with many top orchestras, including the Boston Pops. In 1976 he even headlined a tour of the Soviet Union, breaking boundaries that were usually closed to Americans.

And of course, he also was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His hits included "The Tips of My Fingers" (1963), "Yesterday When I Was Young" (1969), "Come Live With Me" (1973) and "Honeymoon Feeling" (1974). He was also known for his instrumental versions of "Malaguena," on 12-string guitar, and "Ghost Riders in the Sky."

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and emotionally told the crowd how moving it was "just to be associated yourself with the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and imagine that your name will be said right along with all the list."

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."

Clark was a guest host on "The Tonight Show" several times in the 1960s and 1970s when it was rare for a country performer to land such a role. His fans included not just musicians, but baseball great Mickey Mantle. The Yankees outfielder was moved to tears by "Yesterday When I Was Young" and for years made Clark promise to sing it at his memorial — a request granted after Mantle died in 1995.

 

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