Country music guitarist Roy Clark dies aged 85

Roy Clark, who has died aged 85.
Roy Clark, who has died aged 85. Photograph: Harold Filan/AP

Roy Clark, the Grammy-winning country music guitarist and TV host, has died aged 85, at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He had been suffering from pneumonia.

Dolly Parton was among those paying tribute, saying he “was one of the greatest ever … his spirit will never die. I loved him dearly and he will be missed.” Brad Paisley called him a hero who had “shaped my path … I practiced his style, then practiced making his facial expressions.”

Clark was born in 1933 and lived across the north east of the US before his family settled in Washington DC. His earliest guitar was made from a cigar box and the head of a ukulele, and he became proficient on both guitar and banjo. After initially playing in bands with the likes of Wanda Jackson, he scored a solo record deal, and crossed over into the mainstream pop charts with songs like Yesterday, When I Was Young. In 1982 he was awarded a Grammy for best country instrumental performance, for Alabama Jubilee.

He is perhaps best known for hosting the country music variety show Hee Haw on US television, which ran for more than two decades. Country singer Keith Urban reminisced about the show on Twitter, writing: “My first CMA memory is sitting on my living room floor watching Roy Clark tear it up. Sending my love and respect to him and his family for all he did.” Clark also occasionally stood in for Johnny Carson as the host of The Tonight Show, and had a recurring role in popular sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Barbara, with whom he had four children.