Sunday, January 31, 2010

February Opry Highlights

As another month begins, I wanted to review the historical events that have taken place at the Opry during the month of February.

The following Opry members joined the cast during February:
>George Hamilton IV joined the Opry on February 6, 1960 (50 years).
>Ronnie Milsap also became on Opry member on February 6, 1976 (34 years).
>John Conlee became an Opry member of February 7, 1981 (29 years).
>Charlie Louvin became on Opry member on February 10, 1955 (55 years).
>Brad Paisley joined the Opry on February 17, 2001 (9 years).
>Billy Grammer joined on February 27, 1959 (51 years).
>Travis Tritt became on Opry member on February 29, 1992 (18 years).

It has been commented that Charlie Louvin has been around the Opry longer than anyone else who is a member. His 55 years as an Opry member is the longest consecutive membership of any current Opry member. Time really flies by, and I say that because I find it hard to believe that Ronnie Milsap has been around for as long as he has been. It seems just like yesterday that he was just making his mark in country music.

The following Opry members are celebrating birthdays in February:
>Del McCoury was born on February 1, 1939 (71)
>Clint Black was born on February 4, 1962 (48)
>Wilma Lee Cooper was born on February 7, 1921 (89)
>Garth Brooks on February 7, 1962 (48)
>Travis Tritt was born on February 9, 1963 (47)
>Ralph Stanley was born on February 25, 1927 (83)

The following Opry highlights have taken place in February:
>February 1, 1928, Harry Stone joined WSM radio as a staff announcer. He would later become an Opry announcer and then the Program Director of WSM radio. In that role, he was in charge of the Opry and he led the push to make the show more professional, changing the direction away from the amateur local musicians. He set the stage for the great success that the Opry would have through the 1930's and on.
>February 5, 1938, Roy Acuff and his band, named at the time "The Crazy Tennesseans", made their second appearance on the Opry. This time, Roy sang "The Great Speckled Bird", and it generated an avalanche of mail. WSM was so impressed that he was asked to join the Opry, which he did two weeks later. Acuff would be the first true singing member of the Opry, and his membership started the focus of the Opry changing from a show that featured instrumental performances to a show that featured vocal performers. Roy Acuff officially joined the Opry on February 19 and would change the name of his band to "The Smoky Mountain Boys".
>February 23, 1952, Del Wood made her debut on the Opry. In 1951 she had a million selling record with the hit, "Down Yonder", which became her signature song. She joined the Opry in 1953 ad was a member until her death on October 3, 1989. By the way, Del Wood was her stage name. Her legal name was Polly Adelaide Hendricks Hazzelwood.
>February 21, 1981, Boxcar Willie joined the Grand Ole Opry. Roy Acuff was so impressed with Boxcar, that he pushed for his membership as part of the Opry cast. Numerous times over the years, when Roy Acuff would sing his big number, "Walbash Cannonball", Boxcar would join him on stage, doing his famous train whistle.
>February 23, 1957, Porter Wagoner joine the Opry. After the death of Roy Acuff in 1992, Porter became the public face of the Opry, and would continue in that role until his death in 2007, after celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member.

Hope all of you enjoy the Opry highlights from February

1 comment:

  1. Terrific as always!

    It's hard to figure out membership, as you noted in the post about George Hamilton IV reaching his 50th anniversary, and that Jimmy Dickens is counted from 1948. I could argue about Charlie Louvin because he was a member as part of one act, then became a member as a solo. But, unquestionably, he has been a member for 55 years and, as a Hall of Famer to boot, he deserves a lot more respect from the Opry than he gets.