Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grand Ole Opry---April 4, 1881--Old Timers' Night

I realize that it has been a while since I posted a classic Opry line up from the past. I think that I found a good one this time. There was a period of time in the Opry's history, and I am sure many of you will remember it, when each year the Opry had an "Old Timers' Night", which was a yearly show when the Opry invited back former Opry members who had either retired or moved on from the Opry. The show was usually held in April and was actually very popular. Of course over time, these "Reunion Shows" as they were sometimes held, were discontinued as the older veterans died off and there was really nobody to invite to these show. These reunion shows usually were spearheaded by Roy Acuff and some of the Opry's veterans who had been with the show for many years. It was a way for the Opry to remember its past.

In going through my files, I found the line up from one of the "Old Timers' Night", which took place on April 4, 1981. Hope you enjoy it and that it brings back some memories.

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker(host): 'San Antonio Rose'
Stu Phillips: "Great El Tigre'
Charlie Walker: 'Crazy Arms'

6:45: Rudys
Jack Greene(host): 'I'll Be There'
Jan Howard: 'The Story Of Hondo Crouch'
Ernie Ashworth: 'Memphis Memory'
Jack Greene: 'There Goes My Everything'

7:00: Shoneys
Porter Wagoner(host): 'Dooley'
Skeeter Davis: 'Take It Easy'
Curley Fox: 'The Old Grey Mule'
Wilburn Brothers: 'I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight'
Duke Of Paducah: 'Comedy'
Porter Wagoner: 'Trouble In Amen Corner'

7:30: Goo Goo
Jimmy C. Newman(host): 'Happy Cajun Country'
David Houston: 'Texas Ida Red'
Zeke Clements: 'Where Could I Go But To The Lord'
Billy Grammer: 'Somebody Loves You'
Crook Brothers & Tennessee Travelers: 'Sally Goodin'
Jimmy C. Newman: 'Cajun Country Special'

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff(host); 'Wabash Cannonball'
Connie Smith: 'Give Them All To Jesus'
Pee Wee King: 'Tennessee Waltz'
Alcyone Beasley: 'Silver Threads Among The Gold'
Jack Shook: 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds'
Alcyone Beasley & Jack Shook: 'Instrumental'
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle'
Roy Acuff: 'I'll Fly Away'

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow(host): 'Storms Never Last'
4 Guys: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot'
Ray Pillow: 'Too Many Memories'
Lonzo & Oscar: 'Delta Dirt'
Paul Howard: 'Stay A Little Longer'
Fruit Jar Drinkers: 'Nubbing Ridge'
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: 'Before The Next Teardrop Falls'

That was the line up for the first show that night. Like I said, I hope all of you enjoyed the look back.


  1. I used to love the reunion shows. I got to meet Pee Wee King and Fiddlin' Sid Harkreader at one of the last ones in 1983. I don't recall when the last one actually took place. I know they were still doing them after they began doing television on TNN but I was away from Nashville at the time.

    Somewhere in my archives is a tape of a portion of the 1975 "Old Timer's Night" that was held at the Municipal Auditorium as Opryland was flooded at the time. The water never reached the Opry House that time but it flooded the parking lot and up to the Opry Plaza area. Anyway, if that tape is still playable, the 8:00 portion was hosted by Minnie Pearl and featured Zeke Clements, Clyde and Marie Delahey ("The Tennessee Sweethearts"), Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, Sarie (of Sarie and Sallie) and Stu Phillips. Quite a broad swipe of Opry history in that half hour...and was actually the show that really got me interested in the history of the Opry and country music itself. A fortunate turn of events that has led to quite an enjoyable ride!

  2. I THINK the last one was in 1989. I saw a couple televised on TNN and they were, indeed, wonderful. And it STILL could be done today, though it will get even more difficult as time goes on. Frankly, they should be doing these as part of Opry Country Classics. Consider the living former members who might perform:

    Oscar Sullivan (he recently performed at age 91)
    Earl Scruggs
    The Jordannaires (I am not sure how they are doing)
    Ray Price
    Margie Bowes
    Jim Glaser (Tompall and Chuck are not doing that well, but Jim still performs)
    Leroy Van Dyke
    Willie Nelson
    Norma Jean
    Bobby Bare
    Don Williams
    B.J. Thomas
    Holly Dunn

    AND they could use such former sidemen as Curly Seckler, Kenny Baker, and Kayton Roberts. Am I missing anybody? I didn't include Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright because they no longer perform.

  3. I don't think you are missing anyone but when I get back in town from the opry, I will have to check. I do think you have a great idea and I would even include current opry members who are retired to see if they would like to come back for one night.

  4. There's one I see missing: my friend, Sonny James. Sonny retired from performing in the 80s due to ongoing voice problems brought on by allergies but he and his wife Doris often return to Nashville for social functions. One of the nicest people in the entertainment business..."The Southern Gentleman" describes him perfectly.

  5. When I was at the Opry on Saturday night, Jean Shepard introduced Oscar Sullivan, who was sitting up on stage. He stood up and waved. I couldn't see him very well, as he was back in the pews behind the drums and guitars. But, from my vantage point, he looked pretty good.

  6. Byron, there's a fairly recent appearance he made on You Tube. The idea that the Opry doesn't invite him to perform is ridiculous, unless he has been invited and declined.

    Barry, I yield only to you in my worship for Sonny James! I didn't include him for that reason--that his voice problems keep him from performing. I THINK I read at some point that one night, when he visited the Opry, he did take a bow on stage. How I wish he could have kept performing.

    Also, if you are in touch with him, I wrote a paper on him that he read some years ago that I sent to him through Gary Robble. Please give him my best. Southern Gentleman is indeed the perfect name for him.

  7. Wonderful post! I well remember the Old Timer's shows with Deford Bailey and Fiddlin' Sid. I recall hearing Honey Wilds on one show. He played the ukulele and when he made a little slip up he hollered out "cheap strings" and got a good laugh. I have no idea what year that was and I'm surprised at how hard it is to learn anything about Honey on the internet. The No Depression article is great but no birth/death dates. Anybody else remember Honey Wilds??

  8. Great blog! Keep it up. Always wanted to go and see Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, but it's too late now. Will be following your blog.

  9. Thanks James and welcome aboard. And, please add your comments anytime.

    Michael, thanks for the You Tube link for Oscar. I appreciate it.

  10. Byron, glad to do it. I also mentioned you on a Facebook page on Dr. Humphrey Bate; I think his granddaughter maintains it or at least is involved, and there are some great old photos. Anyway, they linked to you! We have to spread the word about you.

  11. Michael, I checked it out and thanks for the mention on the Dr. Bate Facebook page. I went ahead and friended it. And, I am gald that the linked it. I should hire you as my press agent!!!

  12. Byron, I work cheap!

    Barry, I should note that in just over a week, Sonny turns 82. What I'd really like to see is a salute to him on Opry Country Classics, and all he would need to do, if he wanted, is come out and wave!

  13. I remember that Curly Fox, of which we share the same hometown, asked me to go with him that night and play bass for him. I sure wish that I had of went!