This upcoming week, Diamond Rio will be celebrating their 21st year as Opry members, as they joined the Grand Ole Opry on April 18,1998. Later this month, Ray Pillow will be celebrating his 43rd anniversary as an Opry member as he officially joined the Opry on April 30th, 1966. The story is often told that Ray came to Nashville after being a regional winner in the Pet Milk Talent Contest, and in fact, he finished in 2nd place in the national finals in 1961. Another interesting fact about Ray is that his publishing company published many of Lee Greenwood's hits, including the blockbuster hit, "God Bless the USA." He also served as head of the A&R division of Capital Records, responsible for finding, developing and signing new artists. He was considered one of the more influential people behind the scenes in Nashville.
Among the other April highlights involving the Grand Ole Opry:
On April 13, 1985, The Grand Ole Opry began regular regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network. The half hour program was called Grand Ole Opry Live.
On April 14, 1945, "Taps" was played on the Opry to mark the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. It was the first use of a trumpet during an Opry show. I believe that it was Pee Wee King's trumpet play who played it.
On April 17, 1926, Country Music Hall of Fame member Uncle Dave Macon became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry. He would continue as an Opry member until his death in 1952.
On April 26, 1947, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry after leaving the previous year in a salary dispute. He formally was on the Prince Albert portion of the Opry but returned as host of the Royal Crown Cola Show.