Monday, March 29, 2010

April Opry Highlights

This week the month of April begins. As I do each month, I want to review the historical events that took place during this month in the Opry's history and pass along some Opry information.

Only 2 of the Opry's current members joined in April:
>Diamond Rio became members of the Grand Ole Opry on April 18, 1998 (12 years).
>Ray Pillow, one of the Opry's legends joined on April 30, 1966 (44 years). And I might add, Ray sounds as good as ever.

The following Opry members will celebrate birthday's in April:
>Emmylou Harris was born on April 2, 1947 (63 years old).
>Steve Gatlin, of the Gatlin Brothers, was born on April 4, 1951 (59 years old).
>Hal Ketchum was born on April 9, 1953 (57 years old).
>Vince Gill was born on April 12, 1957 (53 years old).
>Loretta Lynn was born on April 14, 1935 (75 years old).
>Roy Clark was born on April 15, 1933 (77 years old).

Looking at the birthdays, I cannot believe that Roy Clark will be 77. He always looks so young while watching the reruns of Hee Haw on Sunday nights. Emmylou Harris still has one of the sweetest voices around and it just seem's like yesterday that Vince Gill was one of the rising stars in country music. It just shows that time doesn't stand still.

The following important events in Grand Ole Opry history took place in April:
>April 17, 1926, Uncle Dave Macon became a Barn Dance regular. At the time he was 55 years old and was the Opry's first nationally known performer. He remained an Opry regular until his death in 1952, at the age of 81.
>April 26, 1947, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry, after leaving the show the previous year in a salary dispute. At the time he had left, he was the host of the nationally broadcast portion, sponsored by Prince Albert. However, when he returned, Red Foley continued as the host of that portion of the Opry and Roy became the host of the Royal Crown Cola Show.
>April 1, 1967, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened on Music Row in Nashville.
> April 6, 1968, a curfew in Nashville that was imposed following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, forced the Opry to cancel that night's live performance for the first, and only time in it's history. WSM aired a tape of a previous show that night. Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee and several other Opry members performed an afternoon show at a nearby hall for the out of town fans who came to Nashville expecting to see an Opry show that night. Also on this date, Bud Wendell took over as the Opry's manager.
>April 12-15, 1972, the first Fan Fair took place in Nashville. It was held at the Municipal Auditorium. Later, it was moved to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, and is now held in downtown Nashville, as part of CMA Music Fest.
>April 13, 1985, the Grand Ole Opry was aired for the first time as a weekly show on TNN, The Nashville Network. The show was called, "Grand Ole Opry Live", and continued on TNN until 2001. Roy Acuff hosted that first show, but, as a trivia question, who can tell me who else was on that show with Roy?

The Opry didn't keep real good records in its earlier days, but it was in April 1946 that Red Foley took over as host of the Opry's Prince Albert Show, and it was in April 1958 that Don Gibson became a member of the Opry.

Finally, in 2004, just a few years back, the Opry was held on the same dates as this coming weekend, Friday April 2 and Saturday April 3. I know that it is not that long ago, but I wanted to repost that line-up from that weekend.

Friday April 2, 2004
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Mel McDaniel; Mike Snider; Joni Harms; Jim Ed Brown
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jeff Bates; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Connie Smith
8:30: Hal Ketchum(host); Charlie Walker; Riders In The Sky; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
9:00: Lorrie Morgan(host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
9:30: John Conlee(host); The Whites; Julie Roberts; Osborne Brothers

Saturday April 3, 2004
First Show
6:30: John Conlee(host); Hal Ketchum; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Osborne Brothers; Radney Foster
7:30: Lorrie Morgan(host); Billy Walker; Jean Shepard; Joni Harms
8:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Mike Snider; Jeff Bates; Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band

Second Show
9:30: Lorrie Morgan(host); Mel McDaniel; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
10:30: John Conlee(host); Connie Smith; Hal Ketchum; Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Billy Walker; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
11:30: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Joni Harms; Jeff Bates

The Opry was not televised live that weekend, and overall it was a pretty decent line-up. Hope all of you enjoyed that look back in history.


  1. The first televised show featured The Four Guys and Connie Smith, then Minnie Pearl. Mr. Acuff ran a little long, and Porter Wagoner hosted the next segment--the debut was on for an hour--with Dottie West, Jack Greene, and the Crook Brothers with the Melvin Sloan Dancers, I believe.

    I remember from that first show that Mr. Acuff said they sent the boys out without any makeup, but the girls got to put it on. Also, when Porter introduced Jack, he called him "Jack Boy," and for some reason that always has stuck with me.

  2. Don't forget Jim Ed Brown's birthday! He was born April 1, 1934. He looks and sounds awesome for 76 years old!!

  3. As I sit at my desk and look at my autographed picture of Jim Ed on the wall, you are so right. My mistake-I had the wrong date down for his birthday.

    And, you are so right. At 76, he still sounds great and always gets a fine reception at the Opry.

    Thanks for correcting my error.

  4. As always Mike, you are correct with the line-up for the first TNN Opry broadcast.