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A remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist, Clark started out on the banjo and mandolin; when he was 14, he received his first guitar as a Christmas present - and made his first television appearance that same year. Among the song's biggest fans was baseball player Mickey Mantle, a longtime friend of Clark's, who asked him to perform the track at his funeral. "It brings a smile to too many faces", Clark said in 2004, when the show was distributed on VHS and DVD for the first time.

The legendary Jimmy Dean noticed the talented young Clark and hired him to play on radio and TV in the Washington, D.C. area.

For many listeners, however, Clark was a television fixture who only sometimes graced the stage.

CBS canceled the show after a 2-and-a-half-year run, but it remained in syndication until 1992. Shown between Owens and Clark is actor Ernest Borgnine, a guest on that episode. Clark even headlined a tour in the Soviet Union in 1976, when that was still a rare opportunity for American performers. The viewers were sort of part owners of the show. "They identified with these clowns, and we had good music".

A source of comic relief as well as musical flair, Clark played alongside musicians including Owens, banjo player Grandpa Jones and singer Kenny Price, with whom he formed the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet. Nonetheless, his early ambition was to become a prizefighter, according to his autobiography, "My Life - In Spite of Myself!" written with Marc Eliot. "I saw a person". Clark died on November 15, 2018 at the age of 85. Among his solo hits were "Yesterday When I Was Young", "Come Live With Me", "Honeymoon Feeling", and "The Tips of My Fingers". In 1982 he was awarded a Grammy for best country instrumental performance, for Alabama Jubilee. While he was first and foremost a country artist, Clark was something of a polymath, with facility in rock, jazz and pop; he became the first country artist to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival and recorded an album with jazz artist Joe Pass in 1994.

Clark is survived by his wife of 61-years, Barbara, as well as his children and grandchildren.


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