Monday, August 31, 2009

September Opry Highlights

With the month of September upon us, let's take a few moments and look back at Grand Ole Opry historical moments that took place in September.

2 of the great female members of the Opry are celebrating Opry anniversaries this month:
>Jeannie Seely became an Opry member on September 16, 1967(42 years).
>Loretta Lynn became an Opry member on September 25, 1962(47 years).

Other September moments:
>September 18, 1947: Ernest Tubb host the first Grand Ole Opry show at New York's Carnegie Hall. Also in the cast that night were Minnie Pearl and George D. Hay.
>September 4, 1948: Eddy Arnold leaves the Grand Ole Opry to head his own CBS network radio show. At the time, Eddy was the biggest star on the Opry and had asked to be paid more than the other performers. His manager at the time was the famous Colonel Tom Parker, later of Elvis fame. He was refused so he decided to move on, as he had outgrown the Opry. His leaving the Opry and starting his own show ultimately led WSM to starting the Friday Night Frolics, which became the Friday Night Opry. After Eddy left the Opry that night, he never returned.
>September 25, 1948: George Morgan became a Grand Ole Opry member.
>September 13, 1952: Webb Pierce makes his first Opry appearance.
>September 24, 1956: Jim Denny quits his post as Opry manager. He was replaced by D. Kilpatrick, who was the first Opry manager hired that did not work for WSM. He had been employed by Mercury Records. Jim Denny was considered the first Opry manager and left to form his own talent agency. When he left, several Opry stars followed him to his new agency, leaving the WSM booking service.
>September 27, 1963: The National Life & Accident Insurance Company bought the Ryman Auditorium from the City of Nashville for $200,000. It was renamed The Grand Ole Opry House.
>September 6, 1984: Ernest Tubb passed away in Nashville. Hard to believe that it has been 25 years.
>September 4, 1991: Dottie West dies from injuries sustained in a car accident en route to the Opry.
>September 1993: Bob Whittaker becomes the manager of the Opry, replacing Hal Durham who becomes President of the Grand Ole Opry. It was during Bob's time as Opry manager that the Opry membership roles were expanded with many of the new artists of the era including Joe Diffie, Hal Ketchum, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride and others. Along with Hal Durham, he was responsible for relaxing the membership appearance requirements to the point that many of the artists that they brought on board as Opry members seldom appear at the Opry.

Hope you enjoy the brief look back at history.

1 comment:

  1. GREAT look back. Thanks!

    Some trivia to toss back:

    --I heard that Tom Parker demanded that Eddy Arnold get a share of the gate receipts. I don't know whether that is true. But it was on Arnold's recommendation that Hank Snow partnered with Parker, and it was by fleecing Snow that Parker wound up with control of Elvis Presley. Small world.

    --I was always sad that Arnold never, to my knowledge, played the Opry again, even as a guest. What a night that would have been!

    --Jim Denny's departure was very controversial, having to do with his control of booking Opry acts through his agency. I have read that Mr. Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Minnie Pearl went to WSM management and said, essentially, he goes or we go. And 25 years since ET died. I'll never forget the night Jack Greene was on Nashville Now and said that ET had been told he could never perform again due to his emphysema and my mother turned to me and said, "He'll be gone in six months." He was.