Monday, November 2, 2009

November Opry Highlights

The month of November is upon us, and I wanted to look back at historical and important Grand Ole Opry events that took place in November.

Several Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry cast during November:
>Joe Diffie joined the Grand Ole Opry on November 27, 1993 (16 years).
>Martina McBride became an Opry member on November 30, 1995 (14 years).

And I want to give special mention to 3 Opry members who joined the cast in November. I single these 3 out for special mention because 2 are true Opry legends who have been members for over 50 years: Stonewall Jackson joined the Grand Ole Opry on November 3, 1956 (53 years ago). Stonewall had his differences with Opry management, but he is back and has been appearing reguarly on the Opry. The other legend is Jean Shepard, who became an Opry member on November 21, 1955 (54 years). One of the true Opry legends, there is no reason why Jean is not yet a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The final Opry member that I want to give special mention to is Marty Stuart, who joined the Opry cast on November 28, 1992 (17 years). Marty, along with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Lorrie Morgan, have led his generation of artists to support the Opry and what it stands for. Since the passing of Porter Wagoner, Marty has taken on a more public role as a spokesperson for the Opry and the number of Opry appearances he has made have greatly increased over the past year. Congratulations to all.

Now a look at historical moments from November:
>On November 2, 1925, George D. Hay accepted the position as WSM Radio Director. This would have a direct impact, as he is the one who started the Grand Ole Opry.
>Everything has a start and for the Grand Ole Opry it all started on November 28, 1925. On that date, the WSM Barn Dance-forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry-broadcasts for the first time from a fifth-floor studio in the National Life and Accident Insurance Company Building. Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a 77-year-old fiddler, who claimed he knew a thousand songs, played a set that began with "Tennesse Waggoner."
>In November 1940, Minnie Pearl, one of the most loved Opry members in its history, joined the Opry cast. On November 3, 1990, the Opry honored Minnie for 50 years as an Opry member.
>November 1960, Hank Locklin joins the Opry. He would remain an Opry member until passing away earlier this year.
>November 29, 1961, a group of Grand Ole Opry members performs at a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in New York. The perfomers included Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Bill Monore and Minnie Pearl.
>On November 28, 1964, Willie Nelson joined the Grand Ole Opry. He would not last long, becoming frustrated over the low pay and the general lack of success he was having as a performer in Nashville. He was paid $35 for his 1st performance on the Opry.
>On November 10, 1973, one of the most tragic events in Opry history took place. David "Stringbean" Akeman appeared on the Opry for the final time. When Stringbean returned home from that Opry that night, he and his wife, Estelle, were ambushed and murdered by two men who hoped to rob the couple of money Stringbean reputedly had hidden in his home. Grandpa Jones, Stringbean's neighbor and best friend, discovered the bodies the next day. Grandpa Jones was so shaken by the murders that he moved from Nashville to Arkansas, and lived there for a number of years and this crime was one of the reasons that promoted Roy Acuff to move to a house at Opryland. 23 years later, some $20,000 would be found, rotted and worthless, in the walls of the house.
>In November 1992, Gaylord Entertainment formally announced their plans on renovating the Ryman Auditorium. It would formally reopen in June 1994. For those who have been there since the renovation, all would have to agree that a great job was done at modernizing and saving the old building. It is still a special place to watch a show, especially when the Opry returns there.
>November 23, 1996, Trace Adkins performed on the Opry for the first time.
>On November 7, 1998, Jimmy Dickens celebrated his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. At the time, only Herman Crook, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and Grandpa Jones were the only Opry members to have celebrated 50 years as Opry members.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy.


  1. Great as always! A couple of notes.

    One, I think we always should make clear that it was really the 50th anniversary of when Jimmy Dickens became an Opry member. Now and then someone says he is close to breaking Herman Crook's record of 62 1/2 years. But Mr. Crook did it consecutively. The Potato was off the Opry from 1957 to 1975, at least as a member, though he continued to be a guest.

    Also, Mr. Acuff died the week Marty Stuart became a member, so it was a time of sadness and happiness, and kind of an interesting transition because Marty has become so much of a leader around the Opry. And I'll always remember his induction for another reason. He announced he was doing "Long Black Veil" for older members of the audience, but he didn't say older members. He referred to old .... well, a term often used for older people. It was funny, but let's just say it caused a stir, and he went on the backstage show that TNN used to do, and apologized.

    I'll also second the motion: Jean Shepard should be in the Hall of Fame.

  2. Absolutely right Michael!!! Thanks again for mentioning Herman Crook's record and also the Roy Acuff mention. I had completely forgotten about his death the week Marty became a member.