Roy Clark, legendary country singer and beloved host of “Hee Haw,” died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla.
Born Roy Linwood Clark on April 15, 1933, the Virginia native got an early start playing banjo, guitar and mandolin at the age of 15. He went on to play in bands for Hank Williams, Grandpa Jones and Jimmy Dean. But it wasn’t until the age of 30 that Roy found major success, getting his big break from Wanda Jackson, who invited him to tour with her. That was followed by a headlining tour and pal Jimmy Dean asking Roy to play on “The Tonight Show,” which Dean was guest hosting, in front of a national audience. Roy also had appeared on “The Beverly Hillbillies” as a recurring character.
“Sure,” Roy once said. “I had dreams of being a star when I was 18. I could’ve pushed it too, but it wouldn’t have happened any sooner. I’m lucky. What’s happened has happened in spite of me.”
In 1963, Roy signed a record deal with Capitol Records, releasing a hits throughout his career, including “The Tip of My Fingers,” “Yesterday When I Was Young” and “Come Live with Me.” He later became known as one of the finest multi-instrumentalists and legendary ‘superpicker’. His musical ability garnered him ACM, CMA and Grammy awards along the way.
Roy became a household name when he and Buck Owens hosted the variety show “Hee Haw,” which remained in syndication for 21 years.
“A TV camera goes right through your soul,” Roy explained. “If you’re a bad person, people pick that up. I’m a firm believer in smiles. I used to believe that everything had to be a belly laugh. But I’ve come to realize that a real sincere smile is mighty powerful.”
In October 2000, Roy was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and was actively involved with school children who attend the Roy Clark Elementary School in Tulsa, Okla.
Roy is survived by Barbara, his wife of sixty-one years, his sons Roy Clark II and wife Karen, Dr. Michael Meyer and wife Robin, Terry Lee Meyer, Susan Mosier and Diane Stewart, and his grandchildren: Brittany Meyer, Michael Meyer, Caleb Clark, Josiah Clark and his sister, Susan Coryell.
A memorial celebration will be held in the coming days in Tulsa, Okla., details forthcoming.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Roy Clark’s family and friends.
Rest in Peace Roy.