Tomorrow starts the month of March, and as I have been doing at the start of each month, I wanted to review important Opry highlights and events that have taken place during the history of the Opry during the month.
Several Opry members joined the Opry during March. They are:
>Jesse McReynolds joined the Opry along with his late brother Jim, on March 2, 1964 (46 years).
>The Whites became Opry members on March 2, 1984 (26 years).
>Trisha Yearwood joined the Opry on March 13, 1999 (11 years).
>Jan Howard offically joined the Opry on March 27, 1971 (39 years).
>George Jones has his offical Opry induction date as March 31, 1973 (37 years).
In the case of Jan Howard, she had been a very frequent guest on the Opry and many people thought she was already a member. In the case of George Jones, he had been an Opry member earlier in his career and then left the show before returning as a member, although with infrequent Opry appearances).
Several Opry members are celebrating birthdays in March:
>Jan Howard was born March 13, 1930 (80 years old).
>Charley Pride was born March 13, 1938 (72 years old).
>Ranger Doug Green of Riders In The Sky was born on March 20, 1946 (64 years).
>Reba McEntire was born March 28, 1955 (55 years old).
Just an interesting note regarding Doug Green. He has a Masters Degree in Literature from Vanderbilt University and is noted as a country music historian and book author. He also is a member of The Time Jumpers, who perform every Monday night in Nashville at the Station Inn. Vince Gill is also a member of the group.
The following historical events in Opry history took place in March:
>March 1947, Grandpa Jones became an Opry member. (The exact date has been lost to history as back during that time period there was really no offical Opry induction).
>March 28, 1950, Hank Snow recorded "I'm Movin' On." Eventually, this became Hank's career record and saved his membership at the Opry. It stayed #1 on the country charts for 21 weeks.
>On March 22, 1952, Uncle Dave Macon died at the age of 82. One of the original pioneers of the Opry, he would eventually be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He had last performed on the Opry just 3 weeks before his death.
>March 26, 1953, Jim Denny and Webb Pierce form Cedarwood Publishing Company in Nashville. Over time, this move would have a profound effect on the Opry, with Jim Denny eventually leaving WSM and the Opry, along with Webb Pierce and others.
>On March 5, 1963, Opry members Patsy Cline, Randy Hughes, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins were killed in a plance crash near Camden, Tennessee. On March 9, the Opry began that night's show with a silent prayer in memory of the trio and also in memory of Jack Anglin, of the duo Johnny and Jack, was was killed in an auto accident in route to a prayer service for Patsy Cline. Opry manager Ott Devine was quoted as saying to the audience, "to keep smiling, and to recall the happier occasions. I feel I can speak for all of them when I say...let's continue in the tradition of the Grand Ole Opry."
>On March 9, 1974, the final Grand Ole Opry show was broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium.
>On March 15, 1974, the final Friday Night Opry took place at the Ryman Auditorium. George Morgan hosted the final segment and ended the show with his hit, "Candy Kisses", and reminding everyone that he would see them tomorrow night at the new Opry House. (Of wish I am proud to say that I have a video of). After the Opry, Grand Ole Gospel took place, with the Rev. Jimmy Snow, along with Johnny and June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Hank Snow, and many others. The ended the show with the song "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." On a side note, Garrison Keillor was covering the final Opry show that night and was inspired to start his own radio show, which he named, "A Prairie Home Companion".
>On March 16, 1974, the Opry performed its first show from the new Grand Ole Opry House. Of course, as we all know, Roy Acuff kicked off the show, which featured a guest appearance by President Richard Nixon and his wife. The Opry members appeared in alphabet order that night, and the first show lasted for almost four hours.
>On March 15, 1975, the Opry had to celebrate its first anniversary at the new Opry House at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium as flood waters from the Cumberland River flooded the parking lots and forced the Opry to move downtown. More than 7,000 people attended that night's show. (Interesting that there was no interest by the Opry to have the show at the Ryman Auditorium that night).
>March 4, 1978, the entire Grand Ole Opry was televised live for the first time on PBS, as part of an annual fund raiser. During the commerical breaks, PBS featured back stage features as they were prohibited from showing the commericals. This became an annual event for several years, and was always one of PBS's highest rated programs.(If anyone knows where there is a copy of that program, I would love to have it.
>On March 10, 1979, James Brown appeared at the Opry at the invitation of Porter Wagoner. In Porter's book, there is a great chapter on that night, especially the response of several Opry members including Jean Shepard and Roy Acuff. Let's just say that he was not well accepted by most Opry members, and many Opry members did not appear that night.
>March 7, 1983, TNN, The Nashville Network, debuted with Ralph Emery's show, Nashville Now. Starting in April, the Opry would be shown on this network for many years.
>In March 1985, Gaylord broadcasting bought Acuff-Rose music publishers for over $20 million dollars, and uses Acuff-Rose as the base to start it's own, Opryland Music Group.
That covers the high points for March. Enjoy!!!
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