Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skeeter Davis

I did not want today to pass without taking a moment to remember Skeeter Davis, who was born on December 30, 1931. To say that Skeeter had a difficult life would be an understatement. Her given name was Mary Francis Penick, and she was born and raised in Kentucky. She received the nickname of Skeeter early in her life, from her grandfather. As far as the last name of Davis, that came from her duet partner, Billy Jack Davis, and together they performed as the Davis Sisters. In 1953, they achieved a #1 record, with the hit, "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know". It was in August of 1953 that Skeeter and Billy Jack were involved in a serious car accident that took the life of Billy Jack and severly injured Skeeter.

In 1956, Skeeter started to record as a single act, under Chet Atkins at RCA Records. She charted a number of hits over the next several years, culminating in the #1 song, "The End of the World", which would become Skeeter's most famous song. The hits would continue through the rest of the 1960's.

She would join the Grand Ole Opry in August 1959. Her Opry career was not without some controversy. In 1973, she dedicated a song to evangelists who were outside and being harassed by the Nashville police. For that, and other political and religious statements that she made at the Opry, she was suspended from the show in 1974. Over a year later, she was reinstated.

Skeeter at one time was married to Ralph Emery, and in books written by both Skeeter and Ralph, they each gave their side to what was not a very good marriage. I think Ralph got the best line of the two, when in his book, "Memories", he wrote, "I thought about including a chapter here, with a headline reading, 'Things I Enjoyed About My Marriage to Skeeter Davis'. I was going to leave the pages blank. No one would have been hurt by the text, and the idea seemed clever".

Skeeter battled a lot of health issues during the last decade of her life, including breast cancer. She was a survivor and would continue to play the Opry as the cancer spread to her bones. She was famous for wearing colorful, full length skirts with usually a head band, or cover.

She would remain a member of the Opry until her death on September 19, 2004. As she battled cancer and she became weaker, she was forced to give up her Opry appearances. In 2000, she appeared on the show 63 times, but that would drop in 2001 to just 4. Her last Opry appearances were on Saturday night, February 3, 2001, when she appeared on both of the Saturday night shows.

In honor of Skeeter Davis, who would have turned 79 today, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday February 3, 2001.

6:30: Porter Wagoner(host); The Whites; Bill Carlisle; Jim & Jesse; Jack Greene
7:00: Jean Shepard(host); Wilkinsons; Billy Walker; Hal Ketchum; Peasall Sisters; Alison Krauss & Union Station; Emmylou Harris
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Skeeter Davis; Mike Snider; Holly Dunn; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Del Reeves; Vince Gill

9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); The Whites; Skeeter Davis; Peasall Sisters; Vince Gill
10:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Billy Walker; Alison Krauss & Union Station
10:30: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Osborne Brothers; Wilkinsons; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Stonewall Jackson; Mike Snider; Emmylou Harris
11:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Charlie Walker; Hal Ketchum

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/31 & 1/1

The Grand Ole Opry will say goodbye to what has probably been it's most challenging year in history on Friday night, while on Saturday, they will welcome in 2011. This week also looks like the return of Jimmy Dickens to the Opry stage, as he is scheduled for both nights. Jimmy has missed the last couple of weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia. Emmylou Harris is also scheduled for both nights this weekend. Saturday night will feature the annual appearance by Jett Williams, giving the Opry a chance to honor the memory of her father, Hank Williams, who died on January 1, 1953. And I see that Charlie Louvin is also scheduled on Saturday night.

Friday December 31
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jack Greene; Craig Campbell
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jean Shepard; Michael Cleveland & Flamkeeper
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); George Hamilton IV; John Conlee; Elizabeth Cook
8:30: Emmylou Harris(host); The Whites; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday January 1
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jean Shepard; Jett Williams
7:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Troy Olsen; The Bowling Family
8:15: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Restless Heart; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Emmylou Harris(host); Charlie Louvin; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Buddy Miller

It does look like the Opry is covering itself in case Jimmy Dickens cannot make it. The options on Friday night include having either Jean Shepard moving up to host, or sliding John Conlee over from the 3rd segment to host. On Saturday night, Jean again could step into the host role.

You never know with the Opry, but I find it interesting that this week they list an intermission for Saturday night, but not for Friday. I am sure there will be an intermission both nights, but maybe they wanted to get the folks out a little earlier on New Years Eve.

After the 1st of the year, I will post my annual recap of the Opry's year, including the number of Opry shows during 2010 and number of Opry appearances by each artist.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers 12/25/1976

On Christmas night, December 25, 1976, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Steve and Rudy, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only Opry members to have joined on Christmas day. Larry was, and still is, a great songwriter and it was that talent that led him to Nashville. Larry started on his own, but wanted to work with his brothers, which led to him writing his own material.

They had their 1st #1 record in 1976 with "Broken Lady." Their hits continued through the rest of the 1970's and 1980's. As their recording careers stalled out, Larry went his separate ways from Steve and Rudy and began to do solo projects. They reunited in 2002 and then again in 2009 with tours and recordings.

Larry was close to Johnny Cash, and in fact, named one of his children after John. Much like John, Larry also battled a serious drug problem, that after treatment, he was able to overcome.

As far as the Opry, Larry has made many solo appearances over the years as well as with his brothers. In 2009, Larry became the main host for the Opry Country Classics show on Thursday nights, and he does a great job. His brothers join him on occasion. Like many others, when Larry first joined the Opry, he appeared on a somewhat regular basis. As the years went on, his appearances became more infrequent. In fact, from 2000 thru 2008, prior to when he started to host the classics show, he appeared on the Opry a total of 9 times. While he has a regular hosting job with the classics program, he still makes very few Saturday night appearances. But, at least he has re-established his relationship with the Opry.

Here is the line-up from Christmas night, December 25, 1976, when The Gatlin Brothers became official members of the Grand Ole Opry.

First Show
6:00: Bill Monroe(host); Ray Pillow; Marion Worth; Lonzo; Ernie Ashworth
6:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper(host); Charlie Louvin; Del Wood
6:45: Ernest Tubb(host); Skeeter Davis; Billy Grammer
7:00: Roy Acuff(host); Charlie Walker; Minnie Pearl; Jimmy C. Newman; Stu Phillips
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Dottie West; Justin Tubb; The Gatlins; Crook Brothers; Opry Square Dancers
8:00: Lester Flatt(host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Vic Willis; Bob Luman
8:30: Hank Snow(host); Jeanne Pruett; Stonewall Jackson; Carlisles; Jim & Jesse; Fruit Jar Drinkers

Second Show
9:30: Charlie Louvin(host); Ernest Tubb; Skeeter Davis; Lonzo; Billy Grammer
10:00: Bill Monroe(host); Ray Pillow; Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
10:15: Roy Acuff(host); Marion Worth; Charlie Walker
10:30: Lester Flatt(host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Jimmy C. Newman
10:45: Porter Wagoner(host); Justin Tubb; The Gatlins; Crook Brothers; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow(host); Bob Luman; Vic Willis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Kirk McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins(host); Jeanne Pruett; Carlisles

Yes, this was the period of time when the 1st Opry show started at 6:00 and was a 3 hour show. It's kind of funny that during the winter months, they would sometimes do a 3 hour Saturday night first show because so many Opry members were in town and wanted to be on. During the summer, they would go back to starting at 6:30. Also, I have the square dancers listed. I am not sure if it was the Bill Jones Promenadors, The Tennessee Travelers or The Stoney Mountain Cloggers that were on this particular week. What a line-up!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Christmas Greetings And Wishes

I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope that it is a blessed day for all of you. I also hope that Santa brings you everything you asked for. As far as the Grand Ole Opry, I have some greetings to sent to them also, and also my own Christmas "wish list" for the Opry:

To Pete Fisher, I hope for a new Opry television contract, and for RFD-TV, I hope you are the ones to get it. And, I hope that you will consider more on-line streaming of the Opry shows. And, please don't mess with the show any more. Most of us thought it was fine the way it was.

For Jimmy Dickens, Roy Clark and Charlie Louvin, better health and a hope that you will still be making regular Opry appearances. For Bill Anderson, congratulations on your upcoming 50th anniversary as an Opry member, and good health to you this year.

For Jim Ed Brown, Charlie Daniels, George Hamilton IV and Jean Shepard, a call from the Country Music Hall of Fame welcoming you as a new member. For Wilma Lee Cooper, and Mel McDaniel, a return to good health. And for Mel, good luck on your new CD and tour and a return to the Opry stage. I hope it happens. And continued good health to the "older" Opry members, such as Jack Greene, Jan Howard and Jimmy C. Newman.

To veteran Opry members such as Ray Pillow, Stu Phillips and Stonewall Jackson, my Christmas wish is for more Opry appearances from each of you. Please Pete, call them more often. They enjoy playing the Opry as much as we enjoy hearing them. To Mike Snider and Riders In The Sky, thanks for keeping humor on the Opry stage. To Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs, thanks for supporting the Opry over the years and the hope is that you will continue to do that. For Blake Shelton, the Opry's newest member, please don't forget for the Opry is at. And for Rhonda Vincent and Gene Watson, a call from Pete Fisher asking you to become an Opry member.

To Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Tom T. Hall, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire and Travis Tritt, a GPS system for your car locked into 2804 Opryland Drive. And to Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap and Dolly Parton thanks for returning to the Opry stage this year, and now, please don't be strangers. To Loretta Lynn and George Jones, a wish that you realize how important the Opry was to your career and a return to the Opry stage more often. And to Hal Ketchum, please come back soon. The Opry misses you.

To Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Ralph Stanley and Del McCoury, thanks for carrying on the bluegrass tradition at the Opry. And to Alison Krauss, please join them. To Jeanne Pruett, Barbara Mandrell, Billy Grammer and Ricky Van Shelton, continue to enjoy your retirement from the music business. All of you have earned it.

To Trace Adkins, Craig Morgan, Josh Turner, Montgomery Gentry, Carrie Underwood and Dierks Bentley, keep remembering where the Opry House is. And to Brad Paisley, thanks for a recommitment to the show this past year. Your support of the show is vital.

To Mandy Barnett, Elizabeth Cook, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Holly Williams, thanks for answering the phone when Pete calls to fill out a line-up. Also, my wish is that each of you has a million selling record this year.

To Connie Smith, Emmylou Harris and Patty Loveless, my wish is that three of the sweetest voices on the Opry continue to keep those voices. And Patty, the Opry is still there for you. It needs you more than once a year. And to John Conlee, Mel Tillis, Steve Wariner, Charlie Pride, Jeannie Seely and the Whites, my wish is that you give the Opry another year of good performances.

To Martina McBride, Terri Clark, Joe Diffie, Diamond Rio, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis, thanks for supporting the show, but please give us more performances. And to Larry Gatlin, thanks for hosting the Opry Classics show and for bringing your down home style to the show.

To all the non-Opry members who came out to do the Opry this past year, thanks. There were too many to mention, but my wish is that we see more of you this year. You help to keep the show fresh and help to fill out the line-up when the missing Opry members do not appear.

To Mike Terry and Eddie Stubbs, thanks for the great introductions that you give us each week on the show. To the Carol Lee Singers, thanks for the great backup vocals you give us each week, and to the Opry staff band, thanks.

To Gaylord Entertainment, thanks to your commitment to the show this past year. You showed me a lot after the flood. You kept the show going, even when it was hard to find a suitable location, you saved the historical artifacts and the fans remained loyal to the show. Thanks for getting the Opry House up and running again, and thanks for updating the dressing rooms and backstage area. And please, don't forget the Opry's historic past and restore the Opry Museum soon.

And to all the Opry fans, please continue to support the show. Some weeks it is not easy, but, if we are not in the audience or listening on the radio, there would be no Opry. And, thanks for reading and commenting on the blog. I enjoy the chat and the emails you send. Thanks!!

Finally, Merry Christmas to all and a great New Year:

aka: Fayfare

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Previous Opry Shows on Christmas Weekend

When I posted this, I said I would try to add a few more. I have some Grand Ole Opry line-ups from when Christmas fell on Saturday night, but I don't have the line-ups from the Friday Christmas Eve shows for these years. Hope you enjoy. (I have added them at the end of this post).

I said in an earlier post that I would try to find Opry line-ups from previous years when the Friday Night Opry fell on Christmas Eve and the Grand Ole Opry was on Christmas night. I have come up with a couple. It is interesting to see what the line-ups were like on those nights and how many of the Opry stars were there for the shows.

This line-up is from the last year that this happened, in 2004

Friday Night Opry December 24, 2004
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Osborne Brothers; T. Graham Brown
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Stonewall Jackson; Ray Pillow; Pinmonkey
8:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Jack Greene; Rodney Atkins
9:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Sherrie Austin
9:30: Jean Shepard(host); Elizabeth Cook; Hal Bynum

Saturday December 25, 2004
6:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jack Greene; Pinmonkey
7:00: George Hamilton IV(host); Gail Davies; Melonie Cannon
7:30: Jean Shepard(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Elizabeth Cook; Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Billy Walker; Sherrie Austin
8:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Osborne Brothers; Mandy Barnett

Note: Even though this was the period of time when there were 2 Saturday night shows each week, on Christmas night, there was only 1 show scheduled.

In 1999, it was the same deal regarding the Friday Night Opry on Christmas Eve and the Grand Ole Opry on Christmas Night. Here are the line-ups from those 2 nights.

Friday Night Opry December 24, 1999
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Bill Carlisle; Billy Walker
8:00: Jean Shepard(host); Osborne Brothers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Stu Phillips; Ernie Ashworth; Riders In The Sky
9:00: Jeannie Seely(host); George Hamilton IV; Jim & Jesse; Charlie Walker
9:30: Johnny Russell(host); Stonewall Jackson; Ray Pillow

Saturday December 25, 1999
First Show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Bill Carlisle; Billy Walker
7:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jim & Jesse; Mandy Barnett
7:30: Jean Shepard(host); Osborne Brothers; Mike Ireland
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); George Hamilton IV; Wilma Lee Cooper; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Johnny Russell(host); Mike Snider; John Berry

Second Show
9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Jim & Jesse; Riders In The Sky; Mandy Barnett
10:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Wilma Lee Cooper;
10:15: Billy Walker(host); Osborne Brothers;(Jan Howard was scheduled in this slot but cancelled)
10:30: Jean Shepard(host); John Berry
10:45: George Hamilton IV(host); Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Stu Phillips; Charlie Walker; Ray Pillow
11:30: Johnny Russell(host); Mike Snider; Mike Ireland

Saturday December 25, 1993
First Show
6:30: Bill Monroe(host)
6:45: Jim Ed Brown(host); Bill Carlisle
7:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Charlie Walker; Wilma Lee Cooper; Marty Stuart
7:30: The 4 Guys(host); Jeanne Pruett; Charlie Louvin; Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dancers; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Hank Snow(host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Grandpa Jones

Second Show
9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Jan Howard; Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
10:00: Bill Monroe(host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Charlie Louvin(host); Grandpa Jones
10:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jim & Jesse
10:45: Billy Walker(host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dancers; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Hank Snow(host); Connie Smith; Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Walker; The 4 Guys
11:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jeanne Pruett; Johnny Russell

Interesting that Grandpa Jones was not in a hosting role that night.

Here is another one, from Saturday December 25, 1982
First Show
6:30: Charlie Louvin(host); Jeannie Seely
6:45: Jack Greene(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Riders In The Sky
7:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jimmy Dickens; Skeeter Davis; Charlie Walker; Billy Grammer
7:30: Bill Monroe(host); Jean Shepard; Lonzo & Oscar; Billy Walker; Bill Carlisle
8:00: Roy Acuff(host); Jan Howard; Roy Drusky; Stonewall Jackson; Stu Phillips; Opry Square Dancers; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Hank Snow(host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C. Newman; The 4 Guys; Vic Willis

Second Show
9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); The 4 Guys; Jack Greene; Ernie Ashworth; Skeeter Davis; Ray Pillow
10:00: Charlie Walker(host); Jimmy Dickens; Teddy Wilburn
10:15: Bill Monroe(host); Stonewall Jackson
10:30: Roy Acuff(host); Connie Smith
10:45: Billy Walker(host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dancers; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Hank Snow(host); Jeannie Seely; Justin Tubb; Jimmy C. Newman
11:30: Roy Drusky(host); Jan Howard; Vic Willis; Bill Carlisle

And finally, here is a show from Christmas night, December 25, 1971. There were 33 members on the show this night and look at the quality of this show:

First Show
6:30: Tex Ritter(host); Archie Campbell; Jimmy C. Newman; Ernie Ashworth; The 4 Guys;
6:45: Wilburn Brothers(host); Earl Scruggs; Ray Pillow; Tom T. Hall
7:00: Lester Flatt(host); Bill Monroe; Grandpa Jones; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Charlie Louvin; Stu Phillips; Stringbean
7:30: Roy Acuff(host); Tex Ritter; Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Del Reeves; Lonzo & Oscar; Charlie Walker; Del Wood
8:00: Ernest Tubb(host); Dottie West; Earl Scruggs; Wilburn Brothers; George Morgan; Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely
8:30: Hank Snow(host); Vic Willis; Marion Worth; Archie Campbell; Jim Ed Brown; Tom T. Hall; Jimmy C. Newman

Second Show
9:30: Bill Monroe(host); Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Charlie Louvin; Stringbean; Ray Pillow
10:00: Roy Acuff(host); Tex Ritter; Jean Shepard; Del Wood
10:30: Lester Flatt(host); Grandpa Jones; Stonewall Jackson
10:45: Ernest Tubb(host); Wilburn Brothers; Stu Phillips; The 4 Guys
11:00: Hank Snow(host); Dottie West; Vic Willis; Lonzo & Oscar
11:30: Marty Robbins(host); Marion Worth; Charlie Walker

I hope you enjoy these.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grand Ole Opry 12/24 & 12/25

You never know what you are going to get whenever the Grand Ole Opry has a show that falls on either Christmas Eve or Christmas night. Any Opry member, or entertainer, who does not live in Nashville is usually home with their families. Many performers who do live in Nashville go away to a vacation spot for the holiday and those who do stay in town are usually with family and friends and just don't want to work on the holiday.

With that said, the line-up for Christmas Eve and Christmas night is not too bad. As expected, Jimmy Dickens is among the missing as he continues to recover, and I would not be suprised if we see very little of him during the cold winter months. Ray Pillow gets an opportunity to host a segment on Friday night, and on both nights, there is a good mix of entertainment.

Friday December 24
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Holly Williams
7:30: Ray Pillow(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Eddy Raven
8:15: George Hamilton IV(host); Jack Greene; James Intveld
8:45: Jeannie Seely(host); Johnny Counterfeit; Dailey & Vincent

Saturday December 25
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Emily West
7:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Jack Greene; Eddy Raven
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Holly Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jan Howard; Dailey & Vincent

Over the next day or two, I hope to post some Opry line-ups from previous years when the Opry was held on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. That might be interesting to some.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hank Snow

I have a confession to make. I know all of us have our favorite Grand Ole Opry stars, either present or former. I know that my top 10 list includes current Opry stars Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Jim Ed Brown, and former Opry stars such as Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb. But on the top of the list, as my favorite Opry member of all time, is the Singing Ranger Hank Snow.

Hank passed away on 11 years ago on December 20, 1999. I am not going to cover the entire career of Hank Snow. But, I will cover just a couple of the important events. Hank was born on May 19, 1914, and was 85 years old when he died. He lived his early years in poverty, and while he was a Canadian star for many years, he really never made it in the states until after he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Hank became an Opry member on January 7, 1950, on the recommendation of Ernest Tubb. It would be hard to believe today, but that was Hank's first appearance on the Opry. It was touch and go, until he had his career hit, "I'm Movin' On". After that, everything else was history.

When Hank passed away, he was 2 weeks shy of celebrating his 50th year as an Opry member. Unfortunately, his health started to decline in the mid 1990's, and Hank made his last Opry appearance on Saturday August 31, 1996. He was scheduled to appear on the Opry on Friday September 6, 1996, and on Friday and Saturday September 13 and 14, but cancelled those appearances. That was the last time he was ever on the schedule for the show.

I highly recommend Hank's autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story", which he published in 1994. In my opinion, it is one of the better books written on a country music star. Hank is pretty honest in the book, and touches on a lot of subjects. I did find it interesting that 2 items that he did not mention in his book was why he started to wear a toupee (and we all have to admit that some of those that he wore looked pretty bad), and the whole deal with his duet partner Kelly Foxton. That one just did not make sense.

I have a couple of personal memories of Hank. I will always remember that after Hank did his opening number on his segment, he would go over and stay pretty much at the announcers stand. And, we all know Hank was not the tallest person in the world (he is taller than Jimmy Dickens), but you would only see his head at the podium. Another memory is that Hank was always perfectly dressed. And, what a great guitar player he was. Toward the end of his career, he had a small musical stand, with the words to his songs written on small index cards. He wanted to make sure to get the songs exactly right. If nothing else, Hank was a perfectionist.

Hank was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979, a well deserved selection. I still find it funny when watching his induction speech, he thanks "Mrs. Hank Snow." He was very formal. For years, a section of the Opry Museum was devoted to him.

In honor of Hank Snow, and remembering him, I am posting the Opry line-up from his final Opry performance on Saturday August 31, 1996. As an extra bonus, I have included the sponsors and a few other notes. Hank was on both shows that Saturday night.

6:30 (GHS Strings) Mike Snider(host); Bill Carlisle
6:45 (Jogging In A Jug) Grandpa Jones(host); Jan Howard
7:00 (Shoney's) Johnny Russell(host); Charlie Louvin; Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown
7:30 (Goo Goo) Jeannie Seely(host); The Cumberland Boys; Ray Pillow; Margaret Whiting; Opry Square Dance Band
8:00: (Martha White) Porter Wagoner(host); Jeanne Pruett; Stonewall Jackson; Del Reeves; Charlie Walker
8:30 (Kraft) Hank Snow(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Stu Phillips; The Whites; Connie Smith

9:30 (Dollar General) Porter Wagoner(host); Brother Oswald; Jeanne Pruett; Jimmy C. Newman
10:00 (Massey Ferguson( Grandpa Jones(host); Stonewall Jackson
10:15 (Opryland) Jean Shepard (host); Roy Drusky
10:30 (Purnell's) Jim Ed Brown(host); The Cumberland Boys
10:45 (Fairfield) Mike Snider(host); Opry Square Dance Band
11:00 (Coca-Cola) Hank Snow(host); Del Reeves; Connie Smith; Charlie Walker; The Whites
11:30 (Loreal) Johnny Russell(host); Stu Phillips; Jeannie Seely; Roy Pillow; Colleen Walters

This Saturday night was Hank's only Saturday night Opry appearance in 1996. The songs he sang on this night were "In The Misty Moonlight" and "It Kinda Reminds Me Of Me" during the 1st show, and "I Don't Hurt Anymore", along with "I Almost Lost My Mind", which was the final song that he performed on the Opry.

As far as 1996, his final year as an active performer, Hank was scheduled to be at the Opry on January 20, 27; February 3, 17, 24; and March 2. He cancelled each of those nights. He would not be on the schedule again until July 27, and he cancelled that night also, along with August 3. He finally did return to the Opry stage on Friday August 9, after an absence of 9 months, due to a respiratory illness. He appeared on the 1st show that night, and that was his final Friday Night Opry.

The Opry is a better place for having performers such as Hank Snow as a member, but the days of Hank Snow are long gone. Actually, I think the Opry would be better today if more entertainers followed the example set by Hank. He was a true country music legend.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bill Carlisle/ Jimmy Dickens

Pretty much everyone knows that Sunday December 19 is the 90th birthday of Jimmy Dickens. But, another great Opry performer and Country Music Hall of Famer was also born on the same date. Bill Carlisle was born on December 19, 1908, and on Sunday would have celebrated his 102nd birthday.

Bill was born in Wakefield, Kentucky and originally performed as a duet with his brother Cliff. They performed on radio stations in Lexington, Kentucky and achieved their greater fame while performing in Knoxville, Tennessee. They remained a duet until 1950, when Cliff retired from the music business and Bill decided to continue as a solo act. He put together a group called The Carlisles, and began to have a string of hits, mostly novelty songs. Later, his children would join his group. While Bill only had a few #1 records, he had numerous top 10 hits.

He was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry after he had a hit with the comedy song, "Too Old to Cut the Mustard", but not before there was some confusion. After the song was recorded, Bill was invited to be a guest on the Prince Albert portion of the Opry, and as Bill said, "From there is where we started negotiating for me coming to the Opry full time. They set a date for me to come down here and I turned in my notice at Knoxville. But then they decided at the Opry that they were going to wait for a while. In order to save face, I couldn't go back to WNOX, I just started to write letters. I wrote letters to, like, Wheeling and Shreveport, and most of them said they weren't looking for anybody. I told my wife, I'm going to write a song called "No Help Wanted." And sure enough I did, only I mixed up a little romance in it, and we recorded it. We went to the 'Louisiana Hayride' in Shreveport right after we recorded that song, and in six weeks it was way up in the charts. Then we had 'Is That You, Myrtle?' and 'Rough Stuff,' and finally the Grand Ole Opry brought us in.

Bill would join the Opry in November 1953 and would remain an Opry member until his death on March 17, 2003, at the age of 94. Over the last decade of his life, Bill suffered several health issues, including open heart and hip replacement surgery. While for most of his career he was known as "Jumpin Bill Carlisle", in his later years he would still say he could jump, but just couldn't stay up as long. He would also come out with a walker and then when he was done, would ask for a standing ovation, and leave the stage with the walker up over his shoulder, to laughs from the crowd.

Bill was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002, along with Porter Wagoner. I will always remember the CMA Awards that year, where Dolly Parton hosted a short segment, honoring Porter with his induction into the Hall, with Porter allowed up on stage, thanking everyone. All Bill got was an introduction in the audience, which I thought was shameful!!

Bill was one of the Opry's true caracters, and in honor of what would have been his birthday, I want to present the line-up from Bill's final Opry performance on Friday March 7, 2002, a performance that he would make in a wheelchair. The following week, he suffered the stroke, that would within two weeks, end his life.

7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider; Jeff Bates
8:00: Jean Shepard(host); Bill Carlisle; The Whites; Rodney Foster
8:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Suzy Bogguss
9:00: Bill Anderson(host); Ernie Ashworth; Connie Smith; Andy Griggs
9:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Stevens Sisters; Jack Greene; Gene Watson

The other great Opry performer celebrating a birthday on Sunday is Jimmy Dickens, who will be 90 years old. Jimmy was born in Bolt, West Virginia, and grew up about as poor as anyone could. Jimmy was brought to Nashville in 1948 by Roy Acuff, and the rest is history. It should be noted that while Jimmy was a great radio and stage performer when he joined the Opry, he had not had any recording hits. He has had a tremendous career, which culminated with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1983.

Jimmy originally joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1948, but left for 18 years, before rejoining the show on February 8, 1975. Even though he was gone from the Opry for all those years, he is introduced to this day as a member of the Opry "for over 60 years." When Jimmy returned to the Opry, he was introduced by Hank Snow, who said, "Jimmy is one of the greatest showmen of all time. It's like replacing the most important spoke in a wheel to have him back on the Opry. We need more Jimmy Dickenses." Jimmy that night would sing, "The Family Reunion", and he would say later that it was appropriate. "It's hard to put in words and say how you feel about being back in the family. It's been so long."

Jimmy is considered the Opry's most treasured member. While he has battled illness the past several years, he is sill on the Opry most weekends. And, even if the voice is not what it once was, or that the jokes are the same each week, he still gets a big ovation and a big laugh. Here is to another year of good health and entertainment for Jimmy Dickens.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/17 & 12/18

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-up for the shows this weekend. There will be one show on Friday night, and the Opry is back to just one show on Saturday night, which will be the case until April. The only exception will be if there is a demand based on ticket sales to add a 2nd Saturday night show.

A couple of things that I noticed regarding the line-up. Jimmy Dickens is not scheduled for Friday night, but he is on the schedule for Saturday. And, he is not in his traditional "lead-off" position on Saturday, but is hosting the final segment, with only Jeannie Seely so far listed as a guest. I am going to make a couple of possible reasons why. 1st, Pete Fisher is still waiting on a confirmation on someone who might be on for that last segment. 2nd, with Jimmy gone last weekend, there might still be no guarantee that he will be there on Saturday, so Jeannie would probably step in and host and Pete will fill out the segment with a couple of guests, or the 3rd reason, which I think is probably the right one, is that Sunday is Jimmy's 90th birthday and maybe the Opry is going to do something special on that last segment for Jimmy. That would not suprise me at all and would be a nice tribute to Jimmy. I know that this is the weekend for the big Garth concerts in Nashville and there is no Garth show on Saturday night. Wouldn't it be nice if Garth came over to the Opry to honor Jimmy on his birthday? Or even good Jimmy friends such as Brad Paisley, who just finished up his concert tour, or Vince Gill is another friend of Jimmy, but I know Vince is on tour with his Christmas show right now, so that one might not be possible. I will be anxious to see what happens.

Friday December 17
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Joey + Rory
7:30: John Conlee(host); George Hamilton IV; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Eric Church
8:45: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Jamey Johnson

Saturday December 18
7:00: Mike Snider(host); John Conlee; Steel Magnolia
7:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Roger McGuinn; Jim Ed Brown; Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely

Really, not a bad line-up on either night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ernie Ashworth

I would like to take a moment to honor former Grand Ole Opry star Ernie Ashworth, who was born on December 15, 1928, and on Wednesday, would have celebrated his 82nd birthday. Ernie was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and would remain associated with Alabama through most of his career.

He came to Nashville in 1949 and was signed shortly after that as a writer for Acuff-Rose Music. He left Nashville in the late 1950's, returning to Alabama to work. In 1960, through the help of Wesley Rose, he signed a recording contract with Decca Records, releasing several records that made the country charts.

In 1962, he signed with Hickory Records, which was owned by Acuff-Rose, and it was at Hickory that he achieved his "career record". "Talk Back Trembling Lips" would be his only #1 record, but what a record it was. Released in 1963, it would spend 42 weeks on the country charts, and also appeared on the pop charts. Thanks to the success of that record, he was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, which he did on March 7, 1964. While he would continue to record, and had singles on the country charts up until 1970, he never again achieved the success that "Talk Back Trembling Lips" brought him. He did have a #1 record in Europe in 1999, "Lonely Only Bar."

In 1992 Ernie was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. During his career, he purchased several radio stations and as he went into semi-retirement, these stations occupied more of his time.

He remained a member of the Grand Ole Opry up until his death on March 2, 2009, at the age of 80, after heart bypass surgery. Unfortunately, like many of the Opry's senior members, he saw his Opry appearances reduced in his last decade as a member. In his last full year, he made 5 Opry appearances, with his last one being on Friday October 10, as part of the Opry's 83th birthday celebration.

I have 2 memories of Ernie and one of them is in regards to that night. I was at that show, which was the 2nd show that night. Ernie was introduced by Riders In The Sky, and he came out as he always did, in that suit with the "trembling lips" on it. He apparently had trouble seeing as he was not really facing the audience and was turned sideways when he was talking. Then he started singing, "Talk Back Trembling Lips', and let me tell you, he "nailed" the song. I never heard him sing it better and the audience really responded. It was great. And, it was a great memory to leave him with.

My other great memory of Ernie is kind of funny. On a Friday night in October 2004, a couple of years prior to his death, Ernie was scheduled to appear only on the 2nd show, in the 11:00 segment. I was walking in the lobby of the Opry house between the 10:30 segment and the 11:00 segment, just stretching my legs, when I looked out the Opry doors and swore that I saw a car on the sidewalk right up against the main entrance. I went over to the doors and sure enough, it was a car and it was being driven by Ernie Ashworth. How he got there, I don't know. Anyways, he gets out of his car, with the pink, trembling lips suit on, and looks very confused, as Opry security and crew members walked over to him to see what was going on. I went outside and stood there, listening to Ernie tell the Opry workers that he didn't know where the parking lot was to park his car and had just followed the driveway!! He didn't follow the driveway, but instead was following the wide sidewalk that runs between the Acuff Theater and the Opry Museum, where the Opry workers use golf carts to bring the disabled people in from the buses. As the Opry security people were trying to figure out what to do about Ernie and his car, Ernie tells them that he is due on stage in a few minutes and he would be back. With that, he left the car and walked into the Opry House, through the lobby and into the door to go backstage. His last words to the security people was that he was scheduled more often, maybe he would know where to go!!! I just loved that. I don't know if that was the reason, or if it was due to his declining health and the health of his wife, but that was Ernie's last Opry appearance until 2008. It just goes to show you never know what you will see at the Opry!!

In honor of Ernie's last Grand Ole Opry appearance, and in honor of his birthday, here is the Opry line-up from that 2nd show, on Friday October 10, 2008.

9:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Connie Smith; Marty Stuart; Jamey Johnson
10:00: Jean Shepard(host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett
10:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Ernie Ashworth; Phil Stacey; Rhythm-N-Motion
11:00: George Hamilton IV(host); Jack Greene; The Time Jumpers

Ernie, it was a pleasure to see you perform many times on the stage of the Opry.

Friday, December 10, 2010

George Jones---Cancelling Shows

I just wanted to mention something about George Jones. We know that he is now 79 years old, and for those who have seen and heard him lately, including his last couple appearances at the Opry, it is apparent that his once great voice is not as good right now as it once was. He is having lots of difficulty reaching the higher notes in his range, and I have also heard that at his most recent concerts, there is less of him and more of his band and back up singers.

I say that in leading up to this. Last night he was scheduled to appear in Akron, Ohio, and it was a show that I was planning on attending. On Wednesday, it was announced that he was cancelling the show and rescheduling it for February, because of illness. Specifically, that he was having trouble with his voice. He had a show scheduled for tonight in Pennsylvania, and that show was cancelled also. The people in Wilkes-Barre are saying that they were told that George is ill. The promoter there said George's next show is scheduled on December 30 in Louisiana, and that George's website makes no mention of George being ill.

I also did some checking and saw that these are not the first shows that George has cancelled this year. In the past several months, it looks like several shows have been cancelled, including one in Florida in October.

Various rumors are being reported and commented on. One is that George's health is not all that good. It was noted that he and Nancy did cancel their annual Christmas display at his home, although the reason given was traffic concerns in Franklin. Along with his health, it has been reported that he has been having voice issues and the reviews of his recent shows have not been all that good. Another report has been that ticket sales for both of these shows were pretty slow, with not much of a pre-sale.

Finally, and I hope that this is not the case, various people are making comments that maybe, since it involves George Jones, there is more to this story. I have not heard anything that would lead me to believe that. I does make me sad for George that every story that I read regarding the cancellation of the Akron show, points out that his nickname is "No Show Jones" and that he has a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Like I said, I hope there is nothing to these rumors and I am sure there is not, and that it is just ill informed people making comments. I know it is hard to shake a reputation, but as I commented on 1 on line story, give the guy a break. He is 79 years old now, has had a hard public life, and maybe the fact is that he is having voice issues and feels bad about performing when he is not in top form.

I hope for the best for George and that he does get to feeling better and that he is able to get his voice back in shape. To many George is country music's greatest singer and nothing should take away from that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/10 & 12/11

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-up for this weekends shows. There will be 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night. Unless ticket demand shows otherwise, this will be the final Saturday with 2 shows until April. The shows this week, as they will be until February, will be at the Ryman Auditorium.

This week's Friday night Opry features Mel Tillis and Jimmy Wayne, while the Saturday night shows will feature Emmylou Harris. Emmylou pretty much only plays the Opry when it is at the Ryman Auditorium and she has said many times that she considers the Ryman a much better place to play on the Opry than at the Grand Ole Opry House. Also being featured on each of her segments on Saturday will be Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen and The Low Anthem. Chris Hillman and Herb Pedesen have a new CD out that features the great Louvin Brothers song, later recorded as a hit by Emmylou, "If I Could Only Win Your Love." And yes, this is the same Chris Hillman from the Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Desert Rose Band. Herb Pedersen and Chris have worked together for a long time. The Low Anthem is a folk band based out of Rhode Island. They have been around since 2006 and have developed a following. We know from the past the Emmylou is given a lot of freedom to ask whoever she would like to appear with her on the Opry and I think this is the case again this weekend.

Friday December 10
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); The Whites; Emily West
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jack Greene; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Mel Tillis(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith

Saturday December 11
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Heidi Newfield
8:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jan Howard; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Emmylou Harris(host); Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen; The Low Anthem

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; Heidi Newfield
10:30: Jean Shepard(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Emmylou Harris(host); Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen; The Low Anthem

Obviously, there is one spot to fill on each of the shows before the square dancers.

The Tuesday Night Opry on December 14 will be the final Tuesday night show until March. Here is the line-up for this weeks show.

7:00: The Whites; Danny Gokey
7:30: Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Rascal Flatts; Elizabeth Cook
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Diamond Rio

Now a bad way to finish out the Tuesday night series for this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 12/7 & Opry Notes

The Grand Ole Opry has announced the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry on December 7th, at the Ryman Auditorium.

7:00: Jean Shepard; Restless Heart
7:30: Jack Greene; The Quebe Sisters
8:15: Bill Anderson; Julianne Hough
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Lee Greenwood

Not a real bad line-up for the Tuesday show.

Now, just a couple of Opry notes involving Opry members:

Mel McDaniel is reporting on his facebook page that he has suffered a setback as his medication has been changed. Mel had set a date for himself to do a final tour and that is now in doubt. He does have some new merchandise for sale on his website and is saying that will be the final offerings from Mel.

Bill Anderson will be celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member in July. It promises to be a big year for Bill and one of the big things that will be happening is Bear Records will be releasing a new box set late next year. It will be a total of a 5 CD set and will cover his recording career from 1958 to 1966. The set will also contain several unreleased numbers and songs that he wrote that became hits for others. If you have ever purchased a Bear Record box set before, you know that they always come with excellent books and photo collections, along with notes from the artist, which Bill said he would be doing for this one.

And, Alison Krauss will be getting back with Union Station for a new CD, coming out in February, on Rounder Records. The last Union Station CD was in April 2007, so Alison fans should be anticipating this release as she comes back to her bluegrass roots.

Good luck on both of these projects.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/3 & 12/4

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for this weekend. As with the previous weeks, there is one show on Friday night and two shows on Saturday night, both nights taking place at the Ryman Auditorium.

Friday night's line-up features The Steeldrivers and Love and Theft visiting, along with Opry member Joe Diffie. Saturday night has Curtis Potter, Rodney Crowell and Bo Bice visiting. To be honest, the line-up for both nights are not overwhelming.

Friday December 3
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; The Steeldrivers
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Love and Theft
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
8:45: Riders In The Sky(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely; Joe Diffie

Saturday December 4
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Curtis Potter
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy C. Newman; Rodney Crowell
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jan Howard; Bo Bice; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Cherryholmes

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Curtis Potter
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jeannie Seely; Rodney Crowell
10:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Bo Bice; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Cherryholmes

As with last weekend, the same four acts are hosting the segments on all three shows, and on Saturday night, both shows are in the same order.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Opry Highlights

I cannot believe that we have entered the final month of 2010. Where has the year gone? As I do at the start of each month, I want to offer the historical highlights for the Grand Ole Opry that took place during the month of December.

In December, 3 Opry members will be celebrating Opry anniversaries.

Randy Travis joined the Opry on December 20, 1986 (24 years).
Jack Greene became an Opry member of December 23, 1967 (43 years).
Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers joined the Opry on December 25, 1976 (34 years).

The following events took place at the Grand Ole Opry in December:

December 5, 1925: The Nashville Tennessean announces that WSM Radio will have a new Barn Dance program on the radio every Saturday night.

December 26, 1925: The WSM Barn Dance officially becomes a weekly radio program on Saturday nights, on WSM. As George D. Hay wrote, "Because of this recent revival in the popularity of the old familiar tunes, WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night, starting Saturday December 26. 'Uncle' Dave Macon, the oldest banjo picker in Dixie, and who comes from Readyville, Tennessee, and 'Uncle' Jimmy Thompson of Martha, Tennessee, will answer any requests for old-time melodies. Uncle Jimmy made his first appearance a month ago and telegrams were received from all parts of the United States, encouraging him in his task of furnishing barn dance music for a million homes."

December 8, 1928: The Grand Ole Opry officially receives it's name. For the first several years, the program was called the "WSM Barn Dance." Before the Barn Dance, the NBC network carried a program called, "Music Appreciation Hour." According to George D. Hay, "It so happened on most Saturday nights, from seven to eight o'clock, WSM carried the 'Music Appreciation Hour' under the direction of the eminent conductor and composer, Dr. Walter Damrosch. Dr. Damrosch always signed off his concert a minute or two before eight o'clock, just before we hit the air with our mountain minstrels and vocal trapeze performers." On that night, Dr. Damrosch said, "While most artists realize that there is no place in the classics for realism, nevertheless I am going to break one of my rules and present a composition by a young composer from 'Ioway' who sent us his latest number, which depicts the on-rush of a locomotive." Then Hay continues, "After that announcement the good doctor directed his symphony orchestra through the number which carried many shoooses depicting an engine trying to come to a full stop. Then he closed his programme with his usual sign-off." After the sign-off and a short introduction by Hay about realism and down to earth music, he had DeFord Bailey respond with his harmonica and performed the song, "Pan American Blues", which featured Bailey doing his imitation of a fast-moving freight train. At the conclusion of that number, Hay gave his now famous reply, "For the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera, from now on we will present The Grand Ole Opry." The name stuck and it has been Grand Ole Opry ever since. (Some have given the date of this occurance as December 10, 1927, but the 1928 date seems to be the right one).

December 30, 1944: Bob Wills, the great western swing bandleader, makes his only appearance at the Opry. He caused a serious issue with Opry management by bringing on stage a full set of drums, which had never before happened at the Opry. He was supposed to keep the drums hidden behind a curtain. During the show, a woman who was sitting in the balcony became so excited that she fell out of the balcony and onto the Opry stage. In the early years of the Opry, George D. Hay took a hard-nosed approach about what went over the air, and that included what instruments were allowed. His saying was, "Keep it close to the ground, boys!" Hay wanted the music played with string instruments only, and horns and drums were banned from the Opry. The subject of drums would continue to be debated at the Opry for decades to come. According to Archie Campbell, in a television interview, "I remember when Grandpa Jones came on and he saw some drums on the stage. And they asked him, 'Grandpa, you want drums on your number?' And he said, 'Very little, if any.'" Bob Wills also featured an electric fiddle, which also was not allowed on the Opry. Roy Acuff's comment to that was it would ruin the Opry forever!!

December 8, 1945: Earl Scruggs makes his debut as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He would be the final addition to what is considered the greatest bluegrass band of all time, which featured Bill Monroe on the mandolin, Earl Scruggs on banjo, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle and Howard Watts on bass. Although Bill Monroe had other band members before this line-up, this was the group that really defined bluegrass and this group would go down in history as Bill Monroe's greatest band and the band that achieved the greatest success for Monroe. The band would remain together until the spring of 1948.

December 30, 1950: Lefty Frizzell makes his debut on the Opry. It was Hank Williams that pushed to get Lefty on at the Opry. At the time, Lefty had the #1 and #2 records in the country with "Always Late" and "Mom and Dad Waltz". According to Lefty, "I forget where we were at the time, but one day Williams says 'You need to join the Opry.' I looked at him an' said, 'Look, I got the number-one song, the number-two song, the number-seven song, and the number-eight song on the charts. An' you tell me I need to join the Opry?" Hank thought about it awhile, then he laughed an' said, 'Darned if you ain't got a heck of an arguement.'" Lefty would join the Opry in 1952, but it would not work out. He left after a couple of months.

December 6, 1964: The Grand Ole Opry fired 12 of its members for failing to meet the Opry's appearance requirements. According to the Nashville Tennessean, "Twelve top country and western music stars will not appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and have been prohibited from using the Opry name in their outside billings. Another entertainer, long-time favorite Minnie Pearl, has been given a leave of absence from the show for the coming year, but will continue to use the Opry billing in in her present contracts, a WSM spokesman said." Fired from the Opry were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Stonewall Jackson and Ray Price. Opry officials had insisted on strict adherence to a rule that said Opry performers had to appear on 26 shows in a year. It was later reported that Chet Atkins was not actually an Opry member and his name was removed from the list. According to Faron Young, money was the issue. "When they insisted on the twenty-six week thing, I put a pen to it and figured it out. I was gonna lose $180,000 a year to work the Opry for twenty-six weeks out of the year." Johnny Wright, husband of Kitty Wells, had a different explanation and it involved percentages paid by the artists to the WSM Artists' Service Bureau, the Opry's booking agency. "They booked some of our dates, and then some of the dates were booked by our personal managers and booking agents. They were charging us fifteen percent on the dates they booked, and then if they didn't book a date you still had to pay them five percent of the dates that you booked yourself." According to Wright, he and Wells were not fired, they quit. Regardless, a number of those who did leave the Opry did eventually rejoin as members, including George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb and Stonewall Jackson. Others, such as Ray Price and Faron Young, would play the Opry on a very infrequent basis. Opry manager Ott Devine put it this way, "The 11 released stars will me missed. And they will be. But there is a feeling that such a lose would be more keenly felt if the stars had not already been missed too often at the Opry." That statement could be said about many of the Opry's members today!!

December 8, 1982: Marty Robbins passed away from heart disease at the age of 57. Earlier that year, he had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was one of the Opry's most popular members and often performed on the 11:30pm segment, a segment that over the years became famous as being his own personal show, and often running up to an hour over the usual ending time of the Opry.

December 20, 1999: Country Music Hall of Famer and 49 year Grand Ole Opry member Hank Snow dies at the age of 85. He was just weeks away from celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. Due to declining health, Hank had now appeared on the Opry since 1996.

December 14, 2002: Toby Keith makes his debut on the Opry. Also appearing on the Opry that night were Keith Urban and Trace Adkins.

Hope you enjoy the look back!!!