Country music trailblazer and Hee Haw host Roy Clark has died at his home in Tulsa, Okla., his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday. The country music and comedy show's last new episode aired in 1993, though reruns continued for a few years thereafter.
A remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist, Clark started out on the banjo and mandolin; when he was 14, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present - and made his first television appearance that same year.
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".
In the 1950s, Clark played in bands in the Washington, D.C., area.
In 1982, Clark won a Grammy for best Country Instrumental Performance for "Alabama Jubilee", and opened his own theater in Branson, Missouri the following year.
Throughout the '60s, Clark recorded several albums, toured constantly, and appeared on TV variety shows from Carson to Mike Douglas to Flip Wilson. In 1969, his song "Yesterday, When I Was Young" became a hit on both the pop and country music charts; other major hits included "Come Live with Me" in 1973, and "Somewhere Between Love and Tomorrow". He also performed regularly in Las Vegas.
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. Owens, who left the show in 1986, later referred to it as a "cartoon donkey", one he endured for "that big paycheck".
"This was the icing on the cake".