On Sunday October 18, 1998, the Grand Ole Opry held a special Opry show at the Ryman Auditorium. This show was a benefit for The Performer's Benefit Fund and was the first Opry show to have been held at the Ryman since the Opry left on March 15, 1974. In fact, this show was so successful and received so many positive comments from those attending and the performers, that it led to the decision by the Opry to return to the Ryman for an actual Grand Ole Opry show, which they did on January 15 & 16, 1999.
Originally when the Opry returned for that one weekend in 1999 it was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Opry's move to the new Grand Ole Opry House. As with the show in 1998, the 1999 shows were so successful that the Opry has returned to the Ryman Auditorium each winter since. The winter shows at the Ryman make perfect sense, as the crowds are smaller during those months and it gives its customers a feeling of what the Opry was like during its Ryman years. For younger fans it is a new memory and for the older fans, they get a change to rekindle old memories. Plus at the Ryman, you are so much closer to the stage.
But, back to the show on October 18, 1998. It was held during the Opry's birthday celebration and I was lucky enough to stay over an extra day and attend this show. Here is the line-up from that Sunday night.
7:00: Bill Anderson(host); Stu Phillips; Wilma Lee Cooper; Osborne Brothers; Charlie Louvin; Jeanne Pruett
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Hank Locklin; Roy Clark; Charlie Walker; Skeeter Davis
8:00: Billy Walker(host); Stonewall Jackson; The Whites; Del Reeves; Holly Dunn
8:45: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; Patty Loveless; John Conlee; Billy Grammer
9:15: Porter Wagoner(host); Joe Diffie; Travis Tritt; Vince Gill; Steve Wariner; Waylon Jennings
9:45: Lorrie Morgan(host); The Four Guys; Jan Howard; Ernie Ashworth; Jeannie Seely; Johnny Russell
Marty Stuart was originally advertised for the show, but Waylon was on instead. Also, the Opry later put out a full color photo of the event, with photos of those on each segment.
The announcers that night were Kyle Cantrell, Ralph Emery and Eddie Stubbs. The Carol Lee Singers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers were alson on. It was a great show.