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.


  1. Terrific stuff! Interesting, too, how you can see the increasing emphasis on guest acts as time goes on. Also a tinge of sadness: I counted six performers from the 1999 Christmas shows who are gone (Bill Carlisle, Billy Walker, Porter Wagoner, Jim McReynolds, Charlie Walker, and Johnny Russell) we have lost and one who no longer can perform--Wilma Lee Cooper.

    I also noticed that The Potato didn't perform on either of the Christmas shows, so perhaps his absence this weekend has something to do with family.

  2. Even more great stuff. And how I wish I could have been there on Christmas night in 1971. Wow!

    Question or two, first about the 1982 program. You list "Opry Square Dance Band." Wouldn't the Crook Brothers have been on? I'm also curious about the absence of Kirk McGee. I know he died in 1983, but was he off the Opry for a while before that? Also, in 1971--no dancers, and not only no Crooks, but no Fruit Jar Drinkers?

    I notice on the 1971 program that Bill Monroe did Lester Flatt's segment at 7:00. I guess they had reconciled by then. I also wondered about some of them appearing twice on the first show but not on the second. That struck me as unusual. Any comments?

  3. I don't have any written detail notes regarding those shows, and what I posted was the actual "on stage" line-ups from those shows, so I would just be taking a guess, but here it goes.

    Perhaps Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe did a duet together and that is why they appeared on the same segment. Same with some of the others. Tex Ritter and Earl Scruggs were on multiple segments for the 1st show, so that could be possible also. I don't have the song list from that night, so I don't really know.

    Another thought was, if you notice, Tex Ritter on the 1st segment had 4 guests in a 15 minute period. That works out to 3 minutes an act, without the commercials. It is possible that Tex was really nothing more than an announcer during that segment, doing a short version of a song, then just bringing on the acts. When he appeared in Roy Acuff's segment, perhaps that is where he actually sang a full song.

    We know back in those days, the Opry was less formal, with acts coming and going, and singing with each other more. There were really no dressing rooms at the Ryman in 1971 and everyone usually just hung around on the back of the stage. It was probably nothing for someone just to come on and do a number.

    Also, there were some acts on the 1st show that did not appear on the 2nd show. Perhaps that is how they got their 2 appearances in and then they were gone.

    Regarding the 1982 show, I just had the square dancers listed and the square dance band listed. Of course, that could have been the Crook Brothers, but I don't know. (And, despite my knowledge, I admit, I can't remember).

    According to Bill Monroe's biography, in January 1971 at the Opry, James Monroe approached Lance LeRoy, Lester's agent, and said his father would like Lester to appear at the Bean Blossom festival that year. Flatt's response was, "Well, I'd like to play Bean Blossom if we get our price. Just as long as people don't expect us to sing togther. I'll just work with my own band." Of course, Bill met with Lester before the show that year and they shook hands, and then Lester appeared with Bill on stage. After that festival, they actually toured together and played at each other's festivals. I also found it interesting that Flatt was the host of the segment and Bill was not.

  4. Thanks for the added info. Another thought: remember that songs were shorter then and, as we've discussed, the Opry always had on more performers.

    About Monroe and Flatt, I read elsewhere that Monroe's ex-wife was his booking agent or at least helped put together Beanblossom and she invited Flatt, who went but didn't expect to see Monroe, who came up to him, put out his hand, and said, "Welcome to Beanblossom," and Flatt thanked him, and that was that. Let's also face it: Lester was a far better host than Monroe. One of my favorite Monroe memories is of him hosting the televised portion and, when it was time for a commercial, sort of nodding his head toward Hairl Hensley like a chicken pecking. Another time, he actually said, "Now it's time for the commercial," and Hairl had already started reading the ad!

  5. You are so right about Bill Monroe. I can remember several times on TNN when Opry Live came on, that the segment prior to the televised show would still be going on and Keith would have to kill time. I specifically remember one time that Grandpa Jones was hosting the prior segment and he ran about 5 minutes over. After he was done, he walked backstage in front of the camera with a big grin on his face.

    Also, there was no worry on getting the televised segment done on time for television. The camera would be running the credits and the segment would be continuing on. One year during the birthday show, Martina McBride was on, and this was prior to her becoming an Opry member, and she did two very slow and long songs, and they did not have time to roll the cake out during the televised segment. Martina said later that she got the cold stare from most of the Opry members backstage after that.

  6. I know there was a ruckus at the Opry about who would appear on TV, payment, etc., and I suspect there was some resentment that Hal Durham seemed to me to put on Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson and Jim Ed Brown as hosts more often, partly because they had the most TV experience. But I remember the night then-VP George Bush was on and Mr. Acuff brought him out before he was supposed to, and later said it was his segment and he'd run it the way he wanted to.

    In Mr. Monroe's case, there was one time where the TV portion was running a little long and TNN cut to Keith Bilbrey, who had this pained look because he knew that Mr. Monroe was starting a buck-and-wing and that they should stay on him to show that. A few kinks had to be worked out!

  7. I think one of the big differences was that back then, TNN was televising a portion of a radio show. Now, when the Opry is televised, it is as if there is a "produced" television production within the actual Opry. Now there are rehearsals, timing of production, designated performers for just the televised portion, songs and everything is timed down to the last second. Back then, TNN would just televised whatever happened from 7:30-8, with no special considerations.

  8. The irony is that the Prince Albert show broadcast on NBC Radio from 1939 to 1960 was "just another" Opry segment, but the performers were required to rehearse. The two things I read that stand out are when Mr. Acuff was named to host it and asked what happens if a segment runs short and he said they threw in a fiddle tune, and NBC said no; and Minnie Pearl recalling the jokes provided from the New York office as not just a departure from the average Opry listener, but BAD, so she and Rod Brasfield would rewrite them to suit themselves.