Monday, March 14, 2011

March 16, 1974- Opening Night At The New Opry House

As I continue on with the saga of the Opry's final shows at the Ryman and the 1st show at the new Grand Ole Opry House, we move to Saturday March 16, 1974, which was opening night at the new Opry House. Of course, this is the night that President Richard Nixon became the first
United States president to visit the Opry.

There were 2 shows that night, with the 1st show starting at 6:30pm. This show lasted until 10:15, which means it ran 1 hour and 15 minutes over. The 2nd show started at 10:47pm and finally ended at 1:54am. Most of the Opry members were there that night. Those who did not show up were Bobby Bare, Archie Campbell, Lester Flatt, Tom T. Hall (who was actually scheduled but did not appear), David Houston, George Jones, Bob Luman, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Billy Walker and Tammy Wynette. What is interesting about this list is that Bobby Bare, Archie Campbell, Bob Luman and Billy Walker were all on the Friday Night Opry the night before. I know that most of the Opry's members changed their plans to be there opening night. Also, Hank Locklin, Lonzo & Oscar, Jean Shepard and The Willis Brothers were on the first show only and Marty Robbins did the 2nd show only.

The performers more or less went on in alphabetical order that night for both shows. The only exception is that, following tradition, Marty Robbins closed the 2nd show. There were no real segment hosts, although the sponsors did maintain their usual slots.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree that night started at 1:55am and ended at 3:00am.

Here is the line up and song list for the 2 shows that night. To give you a time perspective, I put the time artists came on at various spots. Also, on the 2nd show, they threw in the commercial segments where they thought they could go. During the 1st show, the commercials just ran at various intervals.

First Show:
(6:30-Mrs Grissoms)
Roy Acuff: You Are My Sunshine
Howdy Forrester: Instrumental Number
Bill Anderson: Po' Folks
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Jim Ed Brown: Morning
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
(After this number was when President Nixon entered the Opry House and was introduced)
Roy Drusky: Satisfied Mind
Jerry Clower: Marcel's Talkin' Chain Saw

Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On(7:18)
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry

(At this point in the show is when President Nixon came on stage)
Entire Cast: Happy Birthday Mrs. Nixon (President Nixon on piano)
President Richard Nixon: My Wild Irish Rose
Roy Acuff and Cast: Stay A Little Longer
Entire Cast: God Bless America
(The presidential part of the show lasted from 7:35-8:05)

Jan Howard: My Kind Of People
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Goodin
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train(8:15)
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Lonzo & Oscar: Traces Of Life
Bobby Lord: Live Your Life Out Loud(8:30)
Charlie Louvin & Darrell McCall: American Trilogy

George Morgan: You Turn Me On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy C. Newman: Jambalaya
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin On Me
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle

(Martha White)
Hank Snow: I'm Moving On
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
4 Guys: Cottonfields, Maria
Ernest Tubb: Walking The Floor Over You(9:22)
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Justin Tubb: Bad Bad Leroy Brown
(Bill Monore Called Into The Opry)
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Wilburn Brothers: Arkansas
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Porter Wagoner: I've Never Seen So Many Happy Faces(10:02)
Dolly Parton: Jolene
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Right Combination

Second Show
Roy Acuff: Back In The Country
Howdy Forrester: Eight Of January
Minnie Pearl
Bill Anderson: A World Of Make Believe
Ernie Ashworth: Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor
Jim Ed Brown: The Three Bells

Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal Of Mine
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Want To Come Home
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love

(11:37-Union 76)
Jack Greene: Statue Of A Fool
Jeannie Seely: Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight
Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely: What In The World Has Gone Wrong With Our Love

Porter Wagoner: I've Never Seen So Many Happy Faces
Dolly Parton: Jolene
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Right Combination

Jan Howard: Sunshine On My Shoulders
Stonewall Jackson: Me And You And A Dog Named Boo
Jim & Jesse: Paradise

Grandpa Jones: Heading South With Nashville On My Mind(12:15)
Connie Smith: Dallas
Bobby Lord: Mississippi
Charlie Louvin: You're My Wife, She's My Woman
Jerry Clower: The Last Piece Of Chicken
George Morgan: Red Rose From The Blue Side Of Town
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy C. Newman: Potato Song
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Stu Phillips: There Must Be A Better Way To Say Goodbye
Ray Pillow: Countryfried

(1:01-Elm Hill)
Del Reeves: Lay a Little Lovin On Me(1:01)
Sam & Kirk McGee: Rollin In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such As I
4 Guys: Let Me Be There
Justin Tubb: Ramblin Man
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Charmin
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Wilburn Brothers: Knoxville Girl
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Marion Worth: Me & Bobby McGee
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman(1:40)
Ronnie Robbins: Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: I'm Wanting To; Big Boss Man; Singing The Blues

I know a lot has been written about that first night and you can read about it in any historical book about the Opry. I will leave those stories to the books. But, I really don't think you can find the line up anywhere else, unless like me and others, you wrote it down that night.

Hope you enjoy!!


  1. Absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for this!

    Tom T. Hall's unhappiness with moving out of the Ryman has been discussed here and elsewhere. I also read that Mr. Monroe wasn't a fan of Richard Nixon and told someone, "I don't have no yoyo." I confess to loving Bill Anderson's story about turning to Ernest Tubb and asking if he'd ever imagined the president would come to the Opry and ET said, "No, but I wish it had been a different president."

    That said, I noticed that ET went out of order, presumably to allow him to get ready for the Midnight Jamboree, and Porter and Dolly went out of order. I always found it interesting about Porter doing the second show because he once said he was an early riser and liked to get out early. Also, Minnie said when she came out that she had waited so long, her dress had gone out of style.

  2. Brilliant!! I've got the opening night program, dozens of photos, and snippets of audio and film clips from that night but this is the first time I've ever seen the running order! Somewhere deep in the WSM archives or the Hall of Fame is a recording of the entire show. At one point there was talk of releasing it as an album...of course it would have had to have been a 16 record set! I'm absolutely thrilled that you posted this!!

  3. Hey guys, thanks for the nice comments. It is appreciated and sometimes it is fun to look back at the historical nights at the Opry. I'll continue to do it for special events and as I get the line ups and try to verify them in some form.

    Like a video or CD of the PBS shows that we all are looking for, a video or CD of the opening night at the Opry House would be a collectors item also. And, I am pretty sure they have it filmed in their archives. We know they filmed the opening with Roy Acuff and all the presidential stuff was filmed, so I have to believe that they filmed the whole show.

    And a final comment regarding the 2nd show; yes, it was more out of order. I would assume that the Ernest Tubb thought with the midnight jamboree is right and I would think that some of the artists might of had personal appearances on Sunday and wanted to get out.

    Finally, one other note. I noticed that on the final Saturday night at the Ryman, the final Friday night at the Ryman and on the opening show at the Opry House that Stu Phillips sang the same song all 3 shows, "There Must Be A Better Way To Say Goodbye". While that song would be fine for the final nights at the Ryman, you would have thought he would have sang a different and more happy/positive song on Saturday night.

    Thanks again!!!