Thursday, December 31, 2009

January Opry Highlights

As we start the month of January, I wanted to cover the historical and important events in Opry history that happened during the month.

A number of Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry in January. They are:

*Tom T. Hall joined on January 1, 1971 (39 year member).
*Dolly Parton officially joined the Opry on January 4, 1969 (41 years).
*Clint Black, who joined the Opry on January 10, 1991 (19 years).
*Mel McDaniel became an Opry member on January 11, 1986 (24 years).
*Wilma Lee Cooper joined with her late husband Stoney on January 12, 1957 (53 years).
*Reba McEntire joined on January 14, 1986 (24 year member).
*Ralph Stanley joined the Opry on January 15, 2000 (10 year member).
*Charlie Daniels became an Opry member on January 19, 2008 (2 years).
*Hal Ketchum joined on January 22, 1994 (16 years).
*Emmylou Harris became an Opry member on January 25, 1992 (18 year member).

The following historical and important events took place in Opry history in January:

*January 1, 1953, former Opry member Hank Williams dies on his way to a show in my hometown of Canton, Ohio.
*January 1, 1960, Billy Walker became a Grand Ole Opry member.
*January 1, 1971, as noted above, Tom T. Hall joined the Opry. Although it may seem like it, there is no truth to the rumor of that being his last appearance on the Opry!!!
* January 3, 1998, Grandpa Jones made is final appearance on the Opry. After doing the 2nd show that night, he suffered a stroke coming off stage and was taken to a Nashville hospital. He would later suffer a series of more serious strokes that would ultimately lead to his death. He was 84 years old.
*January 4, 2003, the Opry commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams by honoring him at a show which featured Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III.
*January 7, 1950, Hank Snow made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He would be an Opry member for over 49 years, and become one of the true stars of the Opry. In his later years, Hank would always host the 8:30 and 11:00 segments on the Saturday night shows.
*January 9, 1960, Patsy Cline joined the Grand Ole Opry.
*January 15 & 16, 1999, the Opry returned for the first time since 1974 to the Ryman Auditorium for all 3 of the shows that weekend. It was on the first show on that Saturday night that Ricky Skaggs asked Trisha Yearwood to become an Opry member. I was there for all 3 shows that weekend, which were sell-outs, and the atmosphere was electric. It was one of the best weekends that I ever spent at the Opry.
*January 16, 1943, Ernest Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry. In the history of the Opry, many believe that outside of Roy Acuff, Ernest was the most influential member of the Opry. It was through his efforts that among others, Hank Snow would become an Opry member. He also helped to drive the Opry sound forward with his use of the electric guitar.
*January 19, 1953, Marty Robbins made his Grand Ole Opry debut.
*January 27, 1979, actress Sissy Spacek joined Loretta Lynn on stage at the Opry that night, in a segment hosted by Ernest Tubb. Later that evening, Loretta Lynn and Sissy Spacek joined Ernest Tubb at the Midnight Jamboree, which at the time was being broadcast from the record shop on Demonbreum Street near the Country Music Hall of Fame. As part of the on-air talk, Ernest poked fun at Spacek, asking her, "What kind of a name is Spacek, hon?" When she did not answer, then he said, "I know what it is: it's a Polack name, isn't it?" More than once in his career Ernest would stick his foot in his mouth.

There you have it, a few notes from the month of January in Opry history. Enjoy.


  1. If it's ok, I'll add a few comments to your wonderful post:

    My mother's two favorite country singers, Jimmy C. Newman and Billy Walker, once were on with Ernest, who announced, "Tonight we've got an Injun and a Cajun." No one objected.

    I'd like to agree about ET being the most influential member. He made a couple of others possible, besides Hank Snow and, as might be expected, Jack Greene, his onetime drummer, whom he introduced in honor of his big ears as a Volkswagen with the doors open. I believe he gave Charlie Walker "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down," which started his career. And one day, ET played golf with Ray Price. They heard a song as they drove to the course and for 18 holes, ET kept telling Ray that he needed to cover it, because it wasn't a good record but it was a great song. Ray finally agreed just to shut him up. "City Lights," which put a lot of taters on Bill Anderson's plate.

    By the way, if I may add a couple, on January 6, Earl Scruggs turns 86 and on January 7, Jack Greene turns 80.

    Finally, are you sure Tom T. Hall actually appeared at his induction? Actually, he tells one of the great stories. On his first appearance, George Morgan, the Opry's official practical joker, put his arm around him and calmed him down, seeing that Tom T. was nervous. When Tom T. got onstage, that's when he discovered that while Morgan had one arm around him, with the other hand, he untuned T's guitar. Tom T. said when he hit the strings, it sounded like a screen door! Then, the night he was inducted, I believe, Mr. Acuff introduced him as Tom P. Hay. He said he understood the Hay reference being the Solemn Old Judge, but where the P came from, he'd never know, and he wouldn't ask Mr. Acuff!

  2. As always Mike, thanks for the additional comments, especially the ones on Ernest Tubb. I think maybe I should start adding the birthdays, especially as many of our favorite stars are getting much older. Happy New Year!!!

  3. I was there too, that first weekend back at the Ryman in 99 for all 3 shows. Interesting, the Friday night Opry had 28 acts and ran 3 hours. How things changed by 09. It was a great weekend, probably ranks 2nd for me to the 75th Anniversary weekend in 00. That was spectacular.

  4. I ageee!! I was at both of those weekends, and I would also rate the 75th Anniversary weekend as #1 and the Ryman return as #2. No question on either one.