I would be remiss if I did not make a mention today of Jeanne Pruett, who on Sunday is celebrating her 74th birthday. Jeanne joined the Opry on July 21, 1973. She was the last 'singing' member to join the Opry before its move to the new Opry House in 1974. (Jerry Clower was actually the last Opry member to join while the Opry was still at the Ryman Auditorium).
The story of Jeanne becoming an Opry member is interesting and here is how she described it: "Actually, as it turned out, I had been a member of the Opry for almost a year before I could get inducted. Dolly Parton wanted so badly to introduce me as the new member of the Opry, but her schedule and mine conflicted and we just couldn't seem to find a time to arrange the introduction. Anyway, I finally 'joined' on July 21, 1973. And Dolly did introduce me."
Jeanne was close friends with Marty Robbins and worked for a time as a songwriter for Marty Robbins Enterprises. She also appeared many times on the final segment of the Saturday night shows when Marty was in town hosting those segments.
Although Jeanne retired from performing, she is still an Opry member today and does appear at many music related events in town. Her retirement from performing was actually kind of sudden. In 2000 she performed on the Opry 64 times, and then in 2001, she performed on the show 23 times and then called it quits. In 2006, when she officially announced her retirement from performing, she actually offered to give up her Opry membership to allow room for a younger female artist to join the show, but the Opry management did not take her up on her offer.
Jeanne's last Opry appearance was on Saturday June 9, 2001, when she appeared on both shows. In tribute to Jeanne Pruett, and in wishing her a happy birthday, here are the Opry line-ups from both shows on Saturday June 9, 2001.
6:30: Jimmy C. Newman(host); The Whites; Bill Carlisle; Gail Davies
7:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jeanne Pruett; Osborne Brothers; David Ball
7:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Joni Harms; Connie Smith; Dan Seals
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); T.G. Sheppard; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers; T.G. Sheppard
10:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeanne Pruett; The Whites; David Ball
10:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Gail Davies; Joni Harms; Hank Locklin; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00; Jimmy C. Newman(host); Del Reeves; Dan Seals
11:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Ray Pillow; Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett