Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Opry Highlights

The month of May is underway and as is my tradition, I want to present the historical Grand Ole Opry highlights that have occured during this month.

Several Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry during the month of May:
>Charley Pride became an Opry member on May 1, 1993 (17 years).
>Carrie Underwood joined the Grand Ole Opry on May 10, 2008 (2 years).
>Steve Wariner became an Opry member on May 11, 1996 (14 years).
>Ricky Skaggs joined the Opry on May 15, 1982 (28 years).
(When Ricky joined the Opry, it marked a turn to more traditional country music. To quote Ricky about the night he joined: "I was on the Ernest Tubb part of the Opry that night, and Ernest read a couple of telegrams. Bill Monore sent a telegram in, saying he was very happy that I was being a part of the Grand Ole Opry family. It was just a ....well, you know, the Opry was the only place in the world that made me nervous. And, I don't ever--ever!--want to get to th point where I can't come and play the Opry, where I feel like I'm too good to play the Opry. Mr. Acuff said that I would do that. He said, 'You'll get so big you'll do just like all the rest of them.' And I said, 'You don't know me. You just watch me and see. I'm not made that way. I didn't join the Opry for that." Of course we all know that every time Ricky would do the Opry and Roy Acuff was still living, that Ricky would make it a point of stopping in his dressing room to let him know that he was there at the Opry. And, Ricky has remained a loyal Opry member over the years and has supported the show, especially in the years since Bill Monroe passed away. I wish more Opry members would feel the same way about the Opry as Ricky Skaggs.)

Also, a number of Opry members are celebrating birthdays during May:
>Larry Gatlin was born on May 2, 1948 (62 years old).
>Randy Travis was born on May 4, 1959 (51 years old).
>Dana Williams of Diamond Rio was born on May 22, 1961 (49 years old).
>Tom T. Hall was born on May 25, 1936 (74 years old).
>Mike Snider was born on May 30, 1960 (50 years old).

The following important and historical events in Opry history took place during the month of May.

>May 29, 1950, Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters, June, Anita and Helen, known as the Carter Sisters joined the Opry.
>May 11, 1957, The Everly Brothers made their first appearance on the Opry.
>May 13, 1967, Merle Haggard made his first appearance at the Opry. He would return for Opry appearances several more times during his career.
>May 8, 1968, George D. Hay, the founder of the Grand Ole Opry and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died in Virginia. On May 11, the Opry paid tribute to him. He was known as "The Solemn Old Judge". Over the years he had experienced a number of health issues, and several mental breakdowns. As the show became more professional, Hay's role was greatly reduced, eventually to the point of being just an announcer on the show that he started.
>May 27, 1972, Opryland opened in Nashville.
>May 11, 1979, the great Lester Flatt passed away.

I want to end this by posting the words that George D. Hay would say at the end of every Opry broadcast:

That's all for now, friends....
Because the tall pines pine
And the pawpaws pause
And the bumble bees bumble all around,
The grasshoppers hop
And the eavesdroppers drop
While, gently, the ole cow slips away...
George D. Hay saying, So long for now!



  1. Great info as always! Thanks for posting this.

    It was on May 9, 1989, that Keith Whitley died, almost ten years to the day after Lester Flatt, whom he knew and imitated so well. Of course, he was Lorrie Morgan's husband, and I wondered at the time why Hal Durham hadn't offered him a membership. I have wondered since if they were concerned about his personal problems.

    I'll never forget Charley Pride's induction. He asked for Jimmy C. Newman, which I thought was interesting. He read a telegram that Henry Cannon had sent from himself and Minnie, and when he got to the part about how proud she was and Mr. Acuff would have been, he broke down.

  2. Thanks for the mention of Keith Whitley. He was just a classic country music singer and a great talent. Of course, he was a former Clinch Mountain Boy, along with Ricky Skaggs.

    I always thought he would have made a great Opry member, and it is just sad how it all ended for him.