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US singer, guitarist Roy Clark dead at 85

US singer, guitarist Roy Clark dead at 85.jpg

In this May 17, 2009, file photo, country music star Roy Clark performs after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Roy Clark, the legendary guitarist and singer, Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member and Grammy award winner has died at the age of 85 due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

His starring stint on the at times deliberately corny Hee Haw show in the US belied his stellar musicianship and deep pedigree as a country-music pioneer.

With the rise of country stars ranging from Emmylou Harris and Dwight Yoakam to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, Clark's vast influence has received its proper due.

He first television appearances in 1963 on The Tonight Show and American Bandstand showcased his easygoing attitude and rural sense of humour.

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

Throughout the '60s, Clark recorded several albums, toured constantly, and appeared on many TV variety shows.

Then came Hee Haw. A countrified comedy show with music, shot in Nashville, it premiered in 1969. It launched him into stardom, and over the years he had 23 Top 40 country hits.

From his home in Tulsa, where he moved in 1974 with Barbara, his wife of 61 years, Clark continued to tour extensively.

"Soon as you hit the edge of the stage and see people smiling and know they're there to hear you, it's time to have fun," he said. :I keep a band of great young people around me, and we're not musically restrained. It's not about 'let's do it correct' but 'let's do it right.'"

He was the rare entertainer with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame; and to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall.

Clark is survived by Barbara, his wife of 61 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.

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