Monday, February 8, 2010

50 Year Opry Members

I know that I had some comments on this in the recap of last weekend's Opry shows, but I just feel strongly about this and wanted to add a couple of more comments.

This past weekend, George Hamilton IV celebrated his 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. During the show on Saturday night, Pete Fisher came out and presented George with a very nice watch, that has been given the recent members who have celebrated their 50th, and a framed poster honoring George. Pete had some very nice comments, as did George. Mike Snider did a good job introducing everyone.

But, I just don't think it was enough. George Hamilton IV has had a pretty good career in country music. I don't know how many records he has sold or how many top 10 hits he has had, but I know it has been a few. At the very least, there should have been a half hour segment devoted to George and his career. I don't think that is asking too much. The way George was honored for his 50th was the same way that Billy Grammer, Jimmy C. Newman, Jean Shepard, Wilma Lee Cooper, Stonewall Jackson and Charlie Louvin were honored. In the case of Billy, I could probably understand, as he is retired and has not really been an active part of the Opry for a number of years.

But in the case of Jimmy, Jean, Wilma Lee, Stonewall and Charlie, there should have been more. In the history of the Opry, as members reached their 50th anniversary on the show, when the Opry was televised, the entire televised portion of the show was devoted to them. That was the case with Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monore, Jimmy Dickens and Porter Wagoner. In the case of Jean, Stonewall, Charlie and Jimmy C., the Opry was still being televised on GAC, but on the night of their 50th, they were not even mentioned or honored on the televised portion. Granted, in the history of country music, all of those individuals were probably bigger stars than Jean, Charlie, Wilma Lee and Jimmy C. But, they all deserve the special treatment. Bill Anderson is the next to celebrate his 50th, and that will be next year. He will probably get honored more than George.

The other thing that bothers me is that the Grand Ole Opry press and public relations department did nothing to let people know that George was celebrating his 50th. There was nothing in the Nashville Tennessean before the event and nothing on the Opry website. And, if you remember, there was nothing said when Jean, Jimmy C., Wilma Lee, Stonewall and Charlie reached that milestone. And, when I was at the Opry on Saturday night, there was nothing in the Opry house, nothing announced before the show and nothing in the program that was given out that night, letting people know what a special night this was.

With this lack of publicity, it was no wonder that the audience basically sat on their hands when George was honored. From what I know, and having met him, he is a great, Christian person. They should have allowed some of the other Opry members come out and say a couple of words. They should have allowed George to host the segment and have on who he wanted that night. They did that with Porter.

I don't mean to go on and on, but when a Reba McEntire shows up at the Opry for the first time in 10 years, the Opry PR department works overtime letting everyone in the world know what is happening.

I know in today's Opry, the emphasis is on the superstars of today, but how can they forget and ignore the past that got them to where the Opry is at today? For 50 of its 84 years, George was a big part of this history. And, to treat it as an afterthought, is just not right!!! If this sounds like "sour-grapes", I don't mean to come off that way. I just think that to be a loyal member for 50 years, you should receive something more than being allowed to sing two songs on a Saturday night.

1 comment:

  1. Since we are both baseball fans, I think you will understand my reaction when I recall Mark McGwire's now-tainted home run record and how Jack Buck said, "Pardon me while I stand up." I stood and applauded your comments, but you couldn't see it. Oh, well.

    That the Opry does not celebrate these events is so ridiculous. The promotion they could do! I think of Hank Snow's line about RCA letting him go after 45 years and what they all could have done with letting him get to his 50th anniversary. The Opry is really blowing it.

    But it's similar with Charlie Louvin. The guy is opening for rock acts! What a great way to get young people interested. And the Opry does ... not ... care.