Country guitarist, 'Hee Haw' host Roy Clark dead at 85

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Roy Clark -- shown here at The Grand Ole Opry in October 2012 in Nashville -- was a Grammy winner and the long-time host of "Hee Haw"

Country music star Roy Clark, who was the host of long-running US television variety show "Hee Haw," died Thursday of complications from pneumonia at his Oklahoma home, his publicist said. He was 85.

Clark, a guitar virtuoso who became an ambassador for country music at home and abroad, was a Grammy winner and a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the premiere showcase for the genre in Nashville.

In 1976, he toured the Soviet Union -- all venues were sold out.

"Folks there said we wouldn't realize in our lifetime the good we'd accomplished, just because of our pickin' around," Clark once said, according to a statement released by his publicist.

He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009 and won seven Country Music Association (CMA) awards during his decades-long career.

"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," Australian country singer Keith Urban said on Twitter.

But it was his job as co-host of "Hee Haw," which centered on country music and culture, that made him most known to American television audiences.

Clark sang and did comedy sketches on the program, which ran for more than 20 years in syndication.

He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Barbara.

"Roy Clark shaped my path. My Papaw introduced me to his music as a toddler. Every Saturday we’d watch Hee Haw. My first guitar book was a Roy Clark guitar method," said country star Brad Paisley.

"I practiced his style, then practiced making his facial expressions. He was a hero. And so many have the same story," added Paisley, who performed with Clark at the CMA Awards in 2016.