Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hal Durham, Former Opry General Manager

Hal Durham, who served as a WSM announcer and as General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, has passed away. He was 77. He was a part of the Grand Ole Opry for 32 years, as an announcer, manager, general manager, and then as president of the Opry group. He was named the general manager of the Opry in 1978. He served in that capacity until 1993. His contributions as general manager included allowing full drum sets on the Opry stage and relaxing the membership rules. It was because he relaxed the appearance requirements, that he was able to sign a number of younger artists as Opry members, including Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Riders in the Sky, The Whites and Reba McEtire as members. He was considered very well liked by Opry members, both young and old. He also had their respect as someone who had been around WSM and the Opry for a long time, who listened to the opinions and suggestions of the various Opry members and the staff. He was also the last Opry manager who had risen through the ranks of WSM radio.


  1. We wrote a couple of letters to him, griping about the Opry lineups. His answers were cordial and patient, and that appears to describe him as a person, too. He served the Opry and country music well. My sympathies go out to his family and friends.

    Peter Cooper has a nice obituary in The Tennessean, with a couple of comments that, if I am reading them right, could be seen as veiled criticism of the Opry's management since. I don't know that, and I am not making charges. But it struck me.

  2. Well, here it is August 2nd, 2009 and I just learned about Hal Durham's passing. I worked with Hal for quite a few years at WSM. He was a close friend. Man, I'm sorry to hear about this. (I think my eyes are starting to water a little bit.) I always looked forward to talking to Hal on the phone after I left Nashville.