Host of "Hee Haw" a Country Icon (Created March 13, 2013)
Ask someone today to name a figurehead or symbol of country music, and depending on their age, the response is most likely to be this name – Roy Clark. The host of television's "Hee Haw" for more than 20 years, and a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," Clark is a musician, performer and entertainer whose personality and presence have made him one of the most beloved icons of all time.
Clark's path appeared set in stone from childhood. He mastered a number of stringed instruments -- including banjo, guitar and mandolin – at an early age, and was performing in local venues and competitions by the age of 14. By his early 20's, he had been featured on local radio stations and television shows, and ultimately took his talents to the west coast. From there, he became the leader of Wanda Jackson's band, played regularly at the Frontier Hotel in Vegas, and consistently landed spots on both "The Tonight Show" and "The Beverly Hillbillies."
It's true that Clark had a handful of hits for a few different labels, but it was "Hee Haw" that made him a household name. The show began its run in 1969 on CBS, and soon was drawing upward of 30 million viewers. From there, his musical status took a back seat to the fact that Roy Clark was the most recognizable face in country music, even as "Hee Haw's" audience began a slow, steady decline into the early 80's.
With dozens of albums to his name, Clark was belatedly made a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1987. Some 22 years later, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame along with Barbara Mandrell and Charlie McCoy. Finally, in 2011, he was honored by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame as Oklahoma's Music Ambassador for Children.
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