Roni Stoneman dead at 85: Hee Haw star remembered as iconic banjo player and member of ‘bedrock’ country music family

‘Hee Haw’ star Roni Stoneman dies aged 85

Bluegrass legend Roni Stoneman, acclaimed as the First Lady of the Banjo and a beloved fixture on the popular variety show Hee Haw, has died at age 85. Stoneman, who was born Veronica Loretta Stoneman, died on Wednesday, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum announced.

Stoneman was part of the renowned country music group The Stoneman Family. She was the youngest daughter of Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, the patriarch of the famous country music family.

“For Roni Stoneman, country music was a birthright and her life’s work,” Kyle Young, the CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said. “She was an integral part of a bedrock country music family, and for eighteen years on ‘Hew Haw,’ she stole scenes as a skillful banjo player and as a comical, gap-toothed country character.”

A cause of death was not immediately disclosed. Stoneman’s father, Pop, was one of the first country musicians. He left his home in Galax, Virginia, about 11 miles north of North Carolina, to pursue a music career in New York City. Stoneman’s dad was the first to record The Sinking of the Titanic, one of the biggest hits of the early 1920s.

Stoneman is survived by her sister, Donna.