Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July Opry Notes

As we enter the month of July, let's take a look at historical and important events that took place in Opry history during the month:

Several Opry stars became Opry members in July. Those members are:

>Alison Krauss-July 3, 1993(16 years)

>Bill Anderson-July 12, 1961(48 years)

>Jeanne Pruett-July 21, 1973(36 years)

>Barbara Mandrell-July 29, 1972(37 years)

A couple of notes:
>When Alison Krauss became a member she was only 21 years old, and at the time, she was the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry. When she joined, she was the first new bluegrass member in 19 years to join the cast. She was inducted by Garth Brooks.

>Jeanne Pruett was the last singing member to become an Opry member while the Opry was at the Ryman Auditorium.

In Opry history, these events took place in July:

>In July 1939, the Opry moved to the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville from the Dixie Tabernacle. For the first time, the show started charging admission-25 cents. The show would only remain here for a short amount of time due to the crowds and the condition that they left the Auditorium and surrounding area after the shows.

>On July 28, 1940, the movie "Grand Ole Opry" premiered in Nashville. It starred Roy Acuff and Uncle Dave Macon, among others. Long out of circulation, it is still requested at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

>On July 15, 1944, Rod Brasfield became an Opry member. He would later die from a heart attack and through the urging of Minnie Pearl, be later elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

>On July 7, 1956, Johnny Cash joined the Opry. He was a member until 1965, when he was fired for damaging the stage lights in a famous incident that has been well documented. After he damaged the lights, he borrowed June Carter's cadillac and crashed it. To make matters worst, the police officer who responded to the accident was June Carter's husband, who was a Nashville officer. June later said that it was an unpleasant evening at their house afterwards. Johnny Cash was welcomed back to the Opry later in his career and appeared many times. He would later be asked if he was interested in becoming a member, but he said he was too busy with concerts to devote the time necessary to the Opry.

>On July 8, 1964, Dottie West became an Opry member. She would later die while on her way to an Opry performance.

>On July 7, 1975, George Morgan died following a heart attack. He joined the Opry in 1948, and among Opry members, he was one of the more popular and well liked performers. When the Opry left the Ryman Auditorium, he hosted the final segment of the show, on Friday March 15, 1974. The final song he sang was his great #1 song, Candy Kisses. His daughter, Lorrie Morgan, later became an Opry member and George was later elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

> On July 2, 1982, former Opry member DeFord Bailey died at the age of 82. He would later be elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and his firing by George D. Hay from the Opry is still one of the unfortunate events in Opry history.

>In July 1982, The National Life & Accident Insurance Company was bought by American General Corporation. At the time, American General was only interested in the insurance business from National Life and made it immediately known that the Opry was for sale.

>In July 1983, The Gaylord Broadcasting Company purchased the Grand Ole Opry, Opryland, The Opryland Hotel, WSM Radio, and TNN for a reported $270 million. As Gaylord has changed management over the years, it as sold TNN and closed Opryland.

>In July 1991, Vince Gill was asked to become a member of the Opry. His induction took place on August 10th. Since joining the Opry, Vince has been one of the more vocal members in urging his fellow artists from his generation to perform on and to support the show. When at the Opry, he is generally assigned to dressing room #1, which was Roy Acuff's former dressing room.

There you have it. A few of the interesting events that took place in Opry history during the month of July. Enjoy the 4th. Happy Independence Day to all.

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