Roy Clark Dies; Country Music Legend Was 85

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Roy Clark, a legend in the world of country music and the former host of Hee Haw, died this morning at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He was 85 years old.

Roy Clark

A representative for the Grammy, CMA and ACM Award-winner tells TMZ Clark passed away after having recently contracted pneumonia -- and that he ultimately passed due to complications from the illness.

Clark had been in the spotlight for decades.

He started performing all the way back at the age of 14 and was one of the first artists to land singles on both the pop and country charts.

Adept at the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and many other instruments, Clark was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was born in Virginia and was introduced to the music industry by his father, who saw exceptional talent in his young son.

Roy Clark Picture

"I was subjected to different kinds of music before I ever played," Clark once said, adding of his father:

"Dad said, 'Never turn your ear off to music until your heart hears it because then you might hear something you like.'"

Sound advice, right?

Clark eventually went on tour with such stalwarts as Hank Williams and Grandpa Jones, dropping out of school when he could no longer keep up with the demands of both his burgeoning career and his studies.

"Music was my salvation, the thing I loved most and did best," Clark said. "Whatever was fun, I'd go do that."

Roy Clark Photo

After winning a banjo competition in 1950, Clark was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

However, it wasn't until 1960, when Clark performed with Wanda Jackson, that his career truly took off.

After opening for Jackson in Las Vegas, he launched his own headlining tour, remaining on the road for 345 consecutive nights... and earning him his very own show in Sin City.

In 1962, Clark released his debut album, "The Lightning Fingers of Roy Clark."

This album spawned his first hit, "The Tips of My Fingers," which included an orchestra and strings section.

In 1963, Clark appeared on both The Tonight Show and American Bandstand, showing off a sense of humor and personality that not many fans even knew existed.

clark, r

"Humor is a blessing to me," said Clark. "My earliest recollections are of looking at something and seeing the lighter side. But it's always spontaneous. I couldn't write a comedy skit for someone else."

This point of view and this talent helped Clark become the host of Hee Haw, a country music variety show.

He helmed the program for 24 years and his guests included Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and Loretta Lynn.

Clark is survived by Barbara, his wife of 61 years, and his five children.

Although an exact date and time has not yet been announced, a memorial is expected to be held in the coming days in Tulsa.

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